Every holiday is special at Monica Muckala’s house in the North End neighborhood of Saint Paul. So special, in fact, that she decorates the whole house, inside and out, for every holiday, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Urho’s Day (Muckala’s late husband, Russell, was Finnish), St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. Muckala has lived in the house for 59 years and says the tradition started when her six children were small and “just gets bigger and bigger every year.”
Muckala greeted me at the door wearing a bright orange Halloween vest. As I entered, I saw the “ porch children,” who are dolls dressed in Halloween costumes. They are having a tea party amidst all sorts of things Halloween. In the living room, a huge tree formed from sumac branches is decorated with ghosts and goblins, witches and
jack-o-lanterns, and bright orange lights. Her now-grown children’s framed Halloween artwork hangs on the walls. Every inch of the living and dining rooms are decorated in some way.
Muckala is retired from Saint Paul Public Schools where she worked with special needs children. She says she loves to entertain, and almost every day she hosts friends from one of the groups she is involved with, including Red Hat Ladies, a homemakers’
group, and classmates from her days at Saint Andrew’s grade school and Saint Joseph’s Academy.
Muckala admits decorating is a lot of work and laughs as she says, “It’s a non-violent form of insanity.” Her family helps with all of the set-up and take-down for each holiday. Her eyes twinkling, she says, “ It’s just so much fun to do all these things.”
Mary Thoemke, a lifelong resident of Saint Paul, is a free lance writer for the Twin Cities Daily Planet.