By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
A long time ago, when the genies brought the five races to Alixandria, the world was wild and chaotic. To bring some order to nature, four nasnas – beings that were part human and part genie – were assigned the tasks of bringing each season to the world on time. The nasna to whom the season of winter was entrusted is known as Jack Frost, a high-spirited, rather mischievous lad with a penchant for trouble. He was artistic, to be sure, but his art was a bit strange; no two pieces of his art, no matter how similar they may look at first glance, were never quite exactly same – there was always one or two things about each picture that was different. He could never recreate a painting from memory, there was always something missing or added. Whatever the case may be, he was perfectly delighted upon receiving the task of taking care of winter. He was planning all kinds of mischief the instant he got his assignment, and he began with the genie who gave it to him. It started off being a simple snowball fight, but it soon escalated into a snowball war that carried on for many years. The reason why it finally stopped is a tale worth repeating indeed. Winter that year began like any other winter, Jack Frost simply going around bringing snow and playing pranks. He and the genie had agreed to avoid each other until Christmas, but Jack always itched to begin throwing snowballs again, so sometimes he would get a group of kids going just so he could join in.
One year, he set out to find some players for a snowball fight when he chanced upon a young girl freezing and starving in the snow. Jack tried everything he could to relieve her pain, but all he could do was make things colder, and all the food was gone. Worried, Jack rushed off to find his sparring partner and explained everything to him. The two rushed back to the girl, very near to death’s door. The genie worked quickly and built a little house around her, supplying her with food and warmth. The two stayed with the girl for about a week, until she was feeling much better. As soon as she was feeling better, she announced that she had to leave, telling them that she was looking for someone very dear to her and must continue to search for him before he was lost to her forever. Jack and the genie understood, Jack pointing her in the direction she needed to take, the genie giving her supplies for the journey. The three parted ways, as friends.
Several years later, Jack returned to the spot where he had found the girl. The house was still there, falling apart at the seams, but there was something new there as well. It was a strange tree, standing tall and firm against the cold wind. It had dark green, pointed leaves, very similar to needles, and red, velvety flowers blooming gloriously against the white backdrop of snow. The genie arrived, he and Jack now being great friends, and explained that this tree grew because of their warm friendship. The two decided to bring the flowers to their friends, and began a new tradition. So, instead of throwing snowballs at each other, they hand each other flowers. That is, if Jack doesn’t start throwing them for fun. The genie eventually named the area Jalley, short for Jack’s Valley, as a reminder to the winter nasna to keep his heart warm with love and friendship. And that is why pine nuts are eaten at this time of year and why poinsettias are exchanged, as a token of love and friendship. For you see, true love and true friendship can weather any storm, it can stand strong and tall through any season, just like the pine tree and its poinsettias.