Many of us have heard of some people leaving their Christmas tree up all year long, but have you ever heard of someone having over 100 trees inside their house? In Magnolia, AR, Casey Souter Munn admits she is a Christmas season fanatic.
It all began about 12 years ago.
“I started out with two trees, then I would add two more trees then got two more,” she said about her ever-expanding collection.
Munn, a secretary at Central Elementary in Magnolia, loves to make children smile with the whimsical seasonal clothing she wears every day in December. During her interview for this story, she was wearing a t-shirt that read “My favorite color is Christmas lights.” She jokingly refers to herself as the Crazy Christmas Lady. A big reason why she chooses to go all out for the holiday is to put smiles on other people’s faces.
“It’s such a joyful time. I love all my trees,” Munn said. “They can turn a bad day around in a heartbeat,” she said.
Decorating the trees has turned into a memorable time full of family tradition. Her husband, Mike, just sits back and grins as his wife shows off her collection. Her son, Jake, 18, helps get all the boxes down from the attic and her daughter, Olivia, 16, helps to fluff the branches so they can be decorated.
“They love everything Christmas. It’s such an important time, and it’s supposed to be magical,” she said.
To make things interesting, Munn has 19 of her trees decorated to a specific theme. To name a few, there’s a family tree, a frou-frou tree, a red and black tree to support the Magnolia Panthers, an owl tree, a cowboy tree complete with turkey feathers and her son’s first cowboy hat, a Mardi Gras tree that stays up through February, a music tree, a butterfly tree in memory of a little girl, and a beach tree that’s full of treasures the family brought back from Florida, Hawaii, and California.
She even has a tree to celebrate her second favorite holiday – Halloween. It’s black and topped with an orange witch’s hat and other spooky ornaments like rubber snakes.
Continuing a Legacy
“My mother also loved Christmas,” Munn said. “I try to continue her legacy.”
Her mother passed away about 20 years ago. The church-themed tree in the living room is where her memory lives on. Large pinecones that belonged to her hang alongside glittery church steeples.
“My mom got them from a pine tree in my Granny Smith’s yard in Taylor many years ago and spray painted some gold,” she explained. “I keep them out in a basket year-round.”
She also honors her mother by hanging snowflake ornaments she hand-crocheted more than 40 years ago.
“Oh, I just love having little parts of her around here,” Munn said. “She has been gone so long, so to have any piece of her at Christmas is wonderful. It makes it feel a little more like she’s here with me.”
Surprisingly, when Munn was growing up, there was only one tree in the family home. It was a real one chopped down from the woods and brought inside to decorate for the memories.
One of her more proud moments is the largest tree in her home. It’s nine-feet tall, and it’s one that she didn’t have to purchase. The only thing it cost her was some pride to dive into a dumpster near the school to rescue it.
“I said, I’m going into the dumpster to get my tree,” she laughed. “I have no idea why someone threw it away, but I’m sure glad they did!”
Luckily, she said it was still in its cardboard box and the lights worked.
“If you were to buy this tree at Hobby Lobby, it would be anywhere from $300 to $500,” she said.
Her husband joked about his petite wife crawling into the dumpster to add to her collection.
“She would have been tickled to death if it would have been an 11-foot,” Mike Munn said.
Ornaments Tell a Story
When asked if she has ever gotten rid of any ornaments because of their age or condition, Munn says absolutely not.
“Oh no, no, no, no, no,” she said. “I have every ornament I’ve ever had in my whole life because every ornament tells a story of some little time of your life.”
Although many of the trees in her home are six-foot, four-foot, and even three-foot, the 10-inch trees in the living room arranged together are also a part of the grand total of 102.
She said she almost didn’t put up the famous collection of trees this year because she was exhausted after recovering from the coronavirus. Her children encouraged her to keep the tradition alive. She said she’s thankful she went ahead and did it. Her home always tends to draw people in with the twinkling of lights and abundance of holiday magic in the air.
“It’s so joyful and it makes me happy,” she said. “I love all my trees!”
When it is time to put them up for the season, Munn relies on the fact that she is “one of the most organized people in the world” to get her seasonal treasures stored until they are brought out again to sparkle and shine once again.
Becky Bell is an award-winning newspaper writer who has worked at numerous newspapers including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Texarkana Gazette. Prior to becoming a freelance journalist, Becky worked in the Communications Department at Southern Arkansas University and served as University Editor. While working there, she also received a Master’s in public administration.
She is a dog lover and lives with her dog, Queenie Belle, a rescue Papillon-mix, in Magnolia, Arkansas. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Stew Pot at the United Methodist Church and attends Trinity Baptist Church. She also serves on the board of Compassion's Foundation Inc., which helps victims of domestic violence. She was born in Texarkana, Texas, and attended Texas High School where she first started writing stories for the Tiger Times.