Welcome to Scott F. Mason’s wonderlandOct 08, 2021 12:02PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Scott F. Mason’s Christmas decorating involves as many as 24 trees, 81 bins of decorations and “a bunch of stuff that won’t it in a bin.”
It also involves fond memories, from his extended family, divorced parents and many friends.
“It’s a labor of love,” he said of making his townhome in the Newark area a Christmas wonderland, from Nov. 1 through mid-January. “I love the ambiance that Christmas lights make. I refuse to use LEDs because they don’t glow. There are so many lights that I don’t turn on the heat. Sometimes I have to open windows to cool down.”
“His house transcends decorating,” said friend Walt Osborne. “It’s artistry. Each area carries a theme and a story. It’s a magical showplace.”
“He’s Father Christmas of Delaware,” said friend Judy David. “Scott makes Christmas special for everyone he touches. He turns his home into a wonderland for friends and family and turns anything into a more festive version of itself during the holidays.”
“I have never met anyone in my life who loves Christmas so much and has such boundless energy to decorate,” said Nancy Chase, a friend from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.
“What I find is remarkable is that it is completely different each year,” said Brian Touchette, a friend almost 30 years. “It is always amazing, how much work he does.”
How it all began
Mason, recently retired from the University of Delaware, grew up in Long Island, amid joyful Christmas gatherings. His parents divorced when he was 6, and the memories changed.
The family moved to Delaware, and by the early 1980s he was working the Christmas season at Bamberger’s in Christiana Mall. Over that decade, he moved up at the store, now called Macy’s, to end as manager of its Christmas arcade. He used his employee discount to stock up after each season.
Fast forward to the 2020s, when he began working for Hallmark, known for collectible ornaments (his Hallmark collection starts in the 1982). He set up the Christmas display at the Christiana Mall store in July – months after he started thinking about this year’s Christmas display at home.
Mason bought his townhome in 1993, and over the years he has honed the decorating techniques that he used and in the home of his mother and stepfather and at the stores.
First, he clears the rooms of everything non-Christmas to create what he calls a blank canvas, which is definitely not a goes-with-everything beige in his home.
The dining room is light olive, mustard yellow and brickish red. The kitchen is slate blue and light yellow. The powder room is raspberry sherbet. The family room is burnt orange. The master bedroom is peacock blue. The library/office is mustard yellow. The bathroom is beige. The collectibles room is white.
How it comes together
The clearing starts the day after Halloween, moved up from when he was working full time from an incredibly intense Thanksgiving weekend.
The installation starts with the garlands, first the greenery, then the lights, ribbons and ornaments. Wall hangings, pictures, wreaths and stockings follow, with items on furniture and shelves and in cabinets next. Trees complete each scene.
Christmas linens, plates, glasses and serving pieces replace the non-holiday kind. The covers of Christmas cookie tins become burner covers on the stove. Christmas cards are displayed and are recycled to decorate gifts. A bust of Zeus is costumed to become the ghost of Christmas present.
He often does his decorating while playing Christmas music: mixtapes, “scratchy and nostalgic” vinyl albums, “enough CDs to sink a ship” and his own Christmas music station on Pandora.
He also creates while playing classic television specials (“I love Christmas specials, and I always wanted to make one”) and Christmas movies. Anniversaries of favorites often provide themes.
Milestones in his own life also inspire themes. For instance, 2021 is his 30th year of portraying Herr Drosselmeyer in the Delaware Dance Company production of “The Nutcracker.” That follows a few years as the troupe’s Rat King.
It’s different every year
Many elements recur, “but nothing is ever the same,” he said. After some anniversaries, he gives items a rest to refresh the look.
Some items have history and memories baked in, such as a 1937 Lionel freight train, a Santa ornament from his maternal grandparents and dozens of satin ornaments created by his Aunt Claudia.
Some are new and new-to-him.
Osborne, a friend for a dozen years, gave him a Harry Potter train set that Mason is excited to debut this year. Osborne’s partner, Walt Graham, bought the set but died last year before using it.
“Personalitrees’ and ‘meaths’
In the 1990s, Mason started making personalized Christmas trees for family members and friends, and their calls to turn his Christmas creativity into a business led him in 2020 to creating a limited liability company called F-ervescent Productions.
He offers personalized trees called “personalitrees” and personalized wreaths called “meaths.” The wordplay comes easily to Mason, an accomplished playwright.
Chase was an early client, interested in decorating a three-season room newly enhanced with heat and air conditioning. Mason asked about theme (winter wonderland) and style (natural ornaments), and he sent her shopping. On the appointed day, he came to create with family favorites, new purchases and his supply of tools and hardware.
F-ervescent also offers mystery events, motivational programs, advice on selecting a college, acting and directing programs and appearances as the honorary understudy of Dame Edna Everage. “He is available as an emcee, guest, or is best at delivering a full two-hour comedy show,” Mason writes on https://f-ervescent.com.
Once the calendar tells him it’s time to welcome Christmas, inside his home, the Christmas lights are glowing, the Christmas music is playing and the décor is everything Christmas. Outside, there’s very little. Because, Mason said, he can’t enjoy it as much.