The local movie theatre is packed, but there is no movie playing this afternoon. Today we have come for a very different kind of show, for a concert not typical in a venue like this.

The violins and cellos are being tuned, musicians are warming up, the eager crowd is trying to find seats. The stage is simply and tastefully decorated with a garland of tiny white and blue twinkle lights. The house lights go down, the stage lights come up, The Northern Orchestra is about to begin playing Corelli’s Concerto No.8, Notte di Natale.

Northern Orchestra Christmas Concert
Northern Orchestra, Director Gordon Lucus


What was I expecting of an orchestra in a town of 4,500 people? To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this! Over the next two hours, Conductor Gordon Lucas and the amateur musicians and choir he directs will take us on a musical holiday journey through Corelli, Bach and a beautifully done rendition of Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’. All so wonderfully done. And occasionally you will hear the less experienced musicians rise above the more prominent first chairs and soloists (who are just amazing, I must add!) But that’s part of the charm, because everyone is welcome here. Everyone is honing their skills, or sharing their experience and proficiency, and it’s so wonderfully inclusive that I feel a bit verklempt just talking about it.

No, it’s not the VSO. It’s even better, because I recognize the faces of people I’ve met in the community recently, the names of people I remember from college and the children of people I went to high school with. And here they all are, pouring their hearts into this one standing-room-only performance in our little single-screen movie theatre. There are even home-made Christmas treats available in the lobby during intermission. And this, all this, for the very affordable price of just $10 ($7.50 for seniors).

And at the end of it all, we come home with full hearts, to our (finally!) decorated house and pour a glass of wine, throw a meatloaf in the oven, and offer up thanks for this amazingly different and wonderful Christmas….Vanderhoof style. And it’s not over yet!


Photo credits: Orchestra & Principle Violin, Karyn Schlamp – Randy Forgo
Photo credit: Concert Master, Kevin Teichroeb – Elise Forgo


Holiday Greetings from the Great White North!

Forgo Christmas Card 2018 image
This artwork for our Christmas card this year was done by local mixed media artist, Maggie Saito. She’s amazing! 

2018 has been an adventure for us. Selling our condo, living with relatives for 2 months (eternally grateful for the hospitality and getting to make up for all the years of not seeing enough of a dear sister), travelling all over British Columbia like a couple of gypsies in a Westfalia, and finally buying our fixer-upper house in Vanderhoof and starting the ground-up restoration … literally. Somewhere in there we have found a little time for our writing and a smidgen of time for visiting with mother and other relatives and experiencing small-town life, northern style. We sincerely hope that 2019 will bring more of all that to us. We make plans, but life rarely follows them. Like I said, it’s an adventure.

To those dear friends we left behind, to new friends and followers in the blogoshere, to far-flung family we don’t see often enough and to the ones who have always been dear but are now also near . . .

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Elise & Randy

bungalow line drawing (3)


…and that’s what Christmas is all about…

It’s a campground in the little town of Vanderhoof, BC, on the bank of the Nechako River, a world renowned bird sanctuary and home to some great hiking and biking trails. But today, in the bitter chill of a Northern December day, it’s a series of stages where the greatest story ever told is unfolding as we walk, shivering, down the winding path . . .

Isaiah the Prophet

Very long ago, the prophet Isaiah tells the oppressed and despairing people of Israel of a coming savior…Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us. A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. And when it comes, his reign of peace will never end. Don’t despair, it will come!

Hail Mary

700 years later, the angel Gabriel visits a young Hebrew virgin, Mary, with the amazing news … the child you bear will be the son of the most high God, that he will free the people from their sins. And Mary believes and accepts her mission…Let it be as you have said!

The Journey to Bethlehem

And in those days a decree went out from the oppressive foreign rulers, that everyone should be taxed. And Joseph went up from Galilee to the town of Bethlehem, to be taxed with his promised wife Mary, who was already very pregnant.

No Room at the Inn

But when they reached Bethlehem, there was no room for them at the inn! The stables were all that was left for them. And so …

Manger Scene

Mary gave birth to her first-born child, the long-promised messiah, in a stable and laid him in a manger.

Shepherds, abiding in the fields...Sheep

And on the night of his birth, the angels visited humble shepherds in the field : Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, GOODWILL TO ALL PEOPLE! And the shepherds said: Let’s hurry to Bethlehem and see this miracle!

3 Mennonite Wise Guys
The 3 Mennonite-Wise-Guys were my favourite. I hope the original Magi had that much fun!

Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the East and we understand the significance of this miracle for the whole world.” And when they had seen the child, they worshiped Him and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And as the journey and the story ended, I was shivering with cold and so grateful for the free TimHorton’s hot chocolate and the warm fire at the end of the trail. But I was left with something more significant. I was touched by the amazing cooperative effort of all the churches of the town, coming together on this very cold day, to perform this play for us, without compensation, with joy, with humility, in a spirit of cooperation. And I believe, with all my heart, that The One at the centre of it all, would approve!

Happy Christmas!

The Cross