Tomas and Olivia Geier sit on Santa’s knee at the 2014 Rosswood Christmas potluck.

Doing Christmas right in Rosswood, B.C.

Small northwestern B.C. community has long established Christmas traditions

The holidays officially got underway in Rosswood where on Dec. 12 the traditional Christmas potluck brought the community out to share in the festive spirit.

About 50 minutes north on the Nisga’a Highway, the 150 residents in Rosswood have gathered together to celebrate the holidays each year for as long as they can remember.

“Once upon a time, back in the day,” remembers Betty Geier, longtime community member and a director of the local community association, “I can’t remember a year where we didn’t have a Christmas potluck dinner or some kind of an event like that.”

Rosswoodians have consistently braved the deep snow and often unplowed roads to gather in the cosy log community hall and this year was no exception.

Sharing homemade dinners, often with local ingredients, the guests were entertained by the choir made up of all ages and abilities singing some classic favourites. Songs were chosen by audience members from handmade song books that have been around at least 20 years. The audience, as always, was encouraged to join the singing. Those with musical instruments also got to show off their talent by accompanying the carolers.

“I really hope that someone who has musical expertise ends up moving out to Rosswood so I can just focus on helping with the singing,” Geier said of the concert.

Santa always makes a trip out to the occasion, dressed in his Christmas best, which Mrs. Claus just keeps adding to each year. He makes an appearance on cue from the choir’s version of “Here Comes Santa”.

He is tall and jolly in a long, dark red coat and hat. Shy and boisterous alike, the children climb on his knee to talk and grasp the brown paper sacks of treats that Santa hands out to each child. After last year’s incident, when good ‘ol Father Christmas misplaced his sleigh and had to go running through the forest with a bunch of children on his tail, this time around everyone reminded him at which entrance he parked.

The laughs and smiles are a great way to build community and have children get to know their neighbours, said Geier.

“If the kids don’t attend all of these events, they don’t realize that that’s how they stay connected,” she explained. “It’s so that Rosswood doesn’t just end up becoming a bedroom community where people just stay home and watch videos and then go to [Terrace] for all their entertainment.”

The efforts to keep a lively spirit even in this tiny community are very apparent. In preparation for the potluck, they undertook an ornament and decoration making workshop to adorn the building, the tree, and the tables. Weekly craft days were held to get the children together and make items that they might use as gifts or decorations in their own homes. The yearly cookie exchange which hasn’t missed a beat for 21 years also took place.

And the excitement isn’t over for Rosswood; this year they plan to have a New Year’s bash.

“We don’t always have a New Year’s party [at the hall] but we are going to, there will be Karaoke and dancing,” explained Geier.

“We’ll have an evening buffet, potluck, it’s for whole families,” she said, stressing that everyone is welcome.

For anyone looking to come out, the Rosswood New Year’s party (all-ages) will start at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Bring something to share!

Cecile Favron is a Rosswood resident now attending Simon Fraser University.