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A Cherokee Christmas Story
by  Janet Leister

The sharp wind had died down, mellowing into a soft moan. Even though the
moon was up and full, stars filled the sky until it seemed as though there
could never be room for another.

The woman sighed heavily as the child twisted and turned inside her. She
closed her eyes against the cold night and drifted back to the early spring,
when the sap ran high in the trees and her husband did not return from a
hunting trip.

She had seen his death in a dream. He was strong and carried a large buck
over his shoulders, and his hair flowed down into the fringe of his shirt.

He was tall and proud and his black eyes burned with an inner fire. She saw
white men ride in with their guns. She saw him fall to the ground, his blood
staining the still un-melted snow.

The next night, her husband's spirit visited the woman. He turned her tears
into seed and thus came alive again within her.

Reluctantly, she woke to the cold. The pains were closer together now and
there were only a few minutes left until the child would be born.

Wrapping the hide more tightly around her, she looked up through the trees
and marveled at the number of stars. Her husband's spirit came back to her
again as a shooting star, dropping out of the sky. As the star flew through
the night, the child shouted out his first cry.

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