Christmas feeling

Holly Barker stands in the Scheide Park Gazebo with her book, ‘Christmas Trunk.’ This is Barker’s second book, and shows appreciation to veterans and all who serve.

Service to this country means a lot to Holly Barker. She is the mother to a soldier who spent four years in Iraq, and her husband, father and father in-law have all spent time in the Armed Forces.

When it came to writing her second book, she wanted to show appreciation to veterans, a group that she feels don’t get enough gratitude or thanks.

That led her on the two- year journey of writing her most recent book, “The Christmas Trunk,” a book about her love of Christmas and Country.

Every year for Memorial Day, the Barker family goes around and places flags near the graves of fallen veterans. This is a tradition that has gone on for 80 years.

Barker’s husband has been placing flags for more than 50 years. It was when she was placing flags and thinking about the names behind the gravestones that Barker knew she wanted to do more to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

She had already written one book, and decided that she should put her efforts into writing another.

That led Barker to writing her 40-page book, that includes illustrations. It’s not a picture book, but a book with pictures.

“When you place those flags it is always an emotional day,” said Barker. “But I always thought I wanted to give and do something different.”

The book is about a girl named Janice. Janice has an older brother that she is very close to. That brother one day leaves her, and goes off to fight.

Janice is left with no one to talk to about the situation and finds herself being angry that her brother left her.

Not to spoil the rest of the book, but emotions run high and there are many twists and turns. The book is made for young adults, and is a good way to introduce them to what it is like when a loved one goes off to war.

“This is something anyone can read,” Barker said.

Barker said she wanted to write the book to honor veterans, but there is another reason that she realized she wrote the book.

Barker herself hated when her son went off to war. Many of the emotions she felt are shared through the perspective of Janice.

“I know how she felt,” she said.

Barker said that it was difficult to write about a subject that meant so much to her, and hopes that is shown on the pages.

“I cried so much thinking about my son and all the mothers who went through what I did,” she said.

Part of what hurts the most is that when you go through it, according to Barker, you feel like you don’t understand why they are leaving.

When Barker moved to Titusville from New York, she decided it might be fun to take a creative writing class at Pitt Titusville. She remembers on the first day her teacher saying to the class  that she doesn’t give out A’s.

At the end of the semester, all Barker had received were A grades on everything she wrote. Her professor came up to her after the class and told her, “You need to write books.”

It took years before Barker ever took her professor up on that. She said it took a long time to create the confidence needed to write something, then let others see it, especially when her name would be on it.

“For years I thought to myself, ‘who would ever want to read what I wrote,’” she said. It took her 10 years to write her first book, but only two years to write her second.

Barker’s book can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and is also an e-book on Kindle.

Barker hopes that her book could be a nice gift to a veteran who you care about, and much like the theme of the book, show them that they are appreciated.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at

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