The Star Child - A Winter Solstice Story
Once upon a time, a long time ago… a time that is also right now… the grown-ups on earth were very worried. You see, even though we live on such a beautiful planet, with so many possibilities and blessings all around us, things were not well. There was war between countries. Not everyone had enough to eat or a safe place to live. Not everyone was treated fairly. There were floods, fires, hurricanes and earthquakes. And each year, it seemed, there was something new to worry about.
But one day, the great mother of the starry heavens sent a message down to earth. The wind carried the message, swirling and dancing. It ruffled through the bare winter branches of the trees. It swirled around buildings and houses. And it came to whisper in the ears of the artists, because poets and musicians and painters and dancers know how to listen to the voice of the wind. And the message was this; the great mother of heaven is going to send a child to earth, a child who will bring miracles with them and who will help heal all that is broken.
The message began to spread, and the people of earth couldn’t wait to meet this child. Every night they would look up at the sky and wonder when and how and where the child would appear. As winter progressed, the nights got longer and the people….well….The grown-ups did what they sometimes do. They worried! What if the message was wrong? What if the child never came? What if the nights just got darker and longer and everything was just worse than ever before?! But the children never lost hope. They knew in their hearts that the star child was coming, and would be here soon.
As the longest and darkest night of the winter approached, the children noticed that there was one star in the sky that was growing brighter. And on winter solstice, the star became a shooting star, rocketing through the sky and tumbling toward the earth. “It’s the star child!” someone shouted. And soon, everyone gathered outside to watch as the glowing star danced through the night sky, shapeshifting along the way. First, the star became a tiger, and then a dolphin, a dragonfly, and a rabbit. Then, the star child plunged into the nearest body of water and disappeared from view.
By this time, all of the beings on earth were watching the star child. Not just humans, but all of the animals and plants. All of earth’s children were waiting with open arms to welcome this new child of hope. So when the child disappeared, everyone rushed to the water's edge. Even the trees pulled up their roots and walked over the land!
Out of the water the child came, leaping and laughing and shining. This shapeshifter star child was a being of pure magic, and so one minute you might see a young girl, the next moment a boy, the next moment a non-binary child, the next a moment a little bear cub. But however the child looked, people felt the most radiant sense of joy. They were so overflowing with good feelings, that they turned to hug each other, and sing and clap and stomp and dance.
The child led them in a procession back to the center of town and gathered them around. “I have been sent by my beautiful mother in the stars to remind you of the miracles all around you!” the child said. “The earth is a place of miracles! A place where anything is possible! But the miracles need your help to come true.”
And with that, the child sent them home and told the people to welcome miracles by making their homes feel special, and joyful. So they decorated with green branches from the trees and twinkles and sparkles that reminded them of the star child. They did kind things for each other, and for their neighbors and friends. They cooked good food and shared what they had with others. The children especially felt the joy and hope that the star child had inspired. Their songs and games and laughter lit up the winter darkness with sweetness and cheer.
And the miracles came.
Repair of what was broken
It was not always what people expected. There were still problems in the world, and plenty to worry about. But the miracles reminded them of what is possible.
And then one day, the star child gathered everyone together in the center of town, and said, “I have loved being here with you, but I miss my mother and my home in the stars. It’s time for me to go home now. But don’t be sad! Because I will leave you with something to remember me by.”
The star child began to glow and little sparkling bits of light, like tiny stars, flowed toward the children of the community - including human, animal and plant children. The little magic stars landed like snowflakes, on the tips of their noses, the tops of their heads, their outstretched hands. And as soon as they landed, the magic absorbed into the children so that all of them, for a few moments, glowed just like the star child. Then, the star child had a message for the grown-ups,
“When you look at the children, remember that they carry miracles! Every so often a new star child like me will come to earth, but from now on, that child will look exactly like one of you. So treat every child like the star child, and keep your hearts open to the good things that are possible.”
And with that, the star child rose up just as they had come, leaping and laughing, tumbling and turning, shapeshifting through many forms. And the next day, the days began to grow longer again. The winter turned to spring, and then summer. By the time winter came the following year, the community was transformed. Because every child knew that they had the magic of the star child inside themselves. And every adult could see it.
This story is an adaptation of “The Solstice Child” by Shekkhina Mountainwater. When I was a teenager, I had that story on a cassette tape, given to me by a beloved teacher. The cassette broke long ago now, so my version of the story is drawn from memory and intentional changes that reflect the children of my community.