Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sharing the Joy: The Priceless Little Gift--Barbara Briggs Ward

Please join me today in welcoming Barbara Briggs Ward, author of The Reindeer Keeper.

The Priceless Little Gift

For whatever reason, certain Christmas gifts stand out from others received over the years. Sometimes those remembered the most aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Cars, jewelry, trips-they all cost a pretty penny but the one gift I remember in particular cost less than a dollar. That’s because it didn’t matter what was wrapped up inside red tissue paper with my name printed on it in pencil. What mattered was that it came from my older brother.

We grew up in a house sitting next to a lane surrounded by other houses mostly occupied by young families like ours. Because our yard was the biggest one in the neighborhood, it was the one we’d all play in. A favorite game played was “Apes.” We’d split up into families of apes and the rest was pure pretending. My brother always picked me to be in his family. I’d follow him and others up and down the flagstone steps and into and around the brambles and thorns as we fought to survive in our land of make believe. With his wild, red hair and freckles covering his face, my brother made a great fearless leader. 
Because the street was on a bit of a hill, whenever school was closed due to a blizzard, we’d all be out there sliding with our toboggans and sleds. It was a great location to grow up in and our home was a great place for Santa Claus to visit. Even though there was no fireplace, our parents would bring a cardboard replica down from the attic every year. We’d get so excited when those pretend flames started back up once the batteries were in place. On Christmas Eve we’d tape our stockings to the cardboard mantle after leaving milk and cookies for that much anticipated guest who’d fill the stockings to the point of overflowing once we were sound asleep.

My brother had the bedroom at the top of the stairs. Mine was in the back of the house. It was all about location on Christmas morning as he’d beat me down stairs; then wait impatiently for me to follow. A few times he’d get under the register leading up into my room and make loud noises. It always worked!
One Christmas he didn’t wait. He came right up and brought me back down. After our parents had their coffee in hand we were allowed to dig into our stockings. Our mother wrapped every little gift stuffed inside them so it took awhile to get down to the toe. Once we did, we were then allowed to open one present from Santa. Then we’d have to wait while breakfast was cooked and served before diving into the pile of gifts awaiting us.

This one particular Christmas was no exception. Wrapping paper went flying as surprises were discovered in that house by the lane. It was after the gifts had been opened and gone over again and again that my brother came up to me with a smile. I remember as if it was yesterday. I was sitting on the floor trying to get a doll with two braids out of its package when he handed me a very small gift wrapped in red tissue paper. Even at my young age I could tell how excited he was. He told me he’d wrapped it after I went to bed and hid it under his pillow. I became excited too. Not because it was another gift. Rather, it was because it was from my big brother.

Seconds later I was holding a 5-stick pack of chewing gum. He’d bought it at the little grocery down on the corner. He knew it was my favorite kind.

Gifts remembered and treasured forever come straight from the heart. My brother’s heart was full that Christmas-as was mine.

Barbara Briggs Ward is the author of the award-winning Christmas story, “The Reindeer Keeper.” She’s been published in Highlights for Children, McCall’s, and Ladies’ Home Journal and is the creator of the Snarly Sally picture book series. Her short story, “In Anticipation of Doll Beds”, was included in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book titled, “Christmas Magic.” In March, 2012, her short story, “A Brown Boy of Our Own”, will be included in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book titled, “Family Caregivers.” For more information:

Read my review of The Reindeer Keeper HERE.

Always in spirit....


  1. added The Reindeer Keeper to my shopping cart :)

    Glad to know I'm not the only one with a Christmas shelf

  2. I really, really want this book.


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