Velvet Snowflakes


Barbara Briggs Ward is a writer living in Ogdensburg, New York. Her short story “The Kitchens” was third runner-up in The Saturday Evening Post’s 2021 Great American Fiction Contest. She is the author of a beloved Christmas trilogy for adults featuring The Reindeer Keeper, (chosen by Yahoo!’s Christmas Books Club as their December 2012 Book of the Month), The Snowman Maker and The Candle Giver. Other works of fiction include The Tin Cookie Cutter and A Robin’s Snow. Her short stories have appeared in three Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Highlights for Children. Her essay centered around her grandmother was one of eight essays selected to appear in Ladies Home Journal, July 1976, highlighting women who represent the “Real Beauties of America.” Barbara’s feature on Boldt Castle was published in McCall’s. She has been a featured author on Mountain Lake PBS and Target Book Festivals in Boston and New York. For more, visit

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Stopping in front of a house that was once her family’s home, Ivy Nolan recalls a particular Christmas Eve, sitting in the dark on the edge of her bed, looking out her window at the neighbor’s place where tree lights were glowing and family gathering. There was no celebrating at Ivy’s. Her parents had divorced. It was their last Christmas in their house on the lane.

That was over twenty years ago.

Recently awarded the coveted title, “Wedding Gown Designer of the Year,” her exquisitely detailed velvet gown wowing the judges, Ivy has returned to her hometown to thank three individuals who had influence in her life, especially her childhood neighbor. That neighbor was a veterinarian with a barn behind his home where he cared for the animals.

Walking down the lane once again, Ivy sees reindeer in a fenced-in area alongside the barn. She is not surprised. She always considered that neighbor to be Santa Claus. Will she find her old friend still at work in his barn? She never thought otherwise. So many memories. So many loose ends that need tending. Some lead Ivy to unexpected places—and people.

Christmas is near.


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