"But there isn't any FROST!" Lerryn grumbled, her irritation obvious as she set the trestle table for the Kinship Day supper. Wooden spoons thumped heavily to the planks as she stomped from setting to setting. Across the room, her parents exchanged amused glances.
"Lerryn, have you forgotten all the tales of Frostfell Time?" her father Darnath chided gently. "Come, set aside your temper and tell me what you remember."
Eager to finish any chore early, Lerryn hurriedly dumped the remaining spoons onto the table and ran to her father, climbing onto the bench to snuggle up to him. He was so rarely home these days that just sitting beside him was a treat.
"'Frostfell Time is that time of year where we celebrate the past and look with hope toward the future,'" Lerryn began in a childish sing-song.
Darnath tickled her. "Young lady, I would have you tell me in your own words," he said with a grin. "Tell me what today is."
"Today is Kinship Day," Lerryn replied. "Families gather together to start the Frostfell Time together, to remember those who have passed and those who did not make the journey."
"That's correct," Darnath said. "For in the long ago, when times seemed at their darkest, gifts were found throughout the lands of food and drink and other necessary things, though who left these gifts remained a mystery. Families gathered together to share what little they had and what they had found.
"Now, we also share tales handed down through our families of the Ages past, even tales of those who did not travel from Felwithe in the old days."
"We come from Felwithe," said Lerryn. "At least, mamma's family did. You're from Qeynos! It doesn't frost in either of those places, though, does it?"
"No, but this is the best time of year to spend with families since it is after harvest and before planting. Otherwise, many would still be working in the fields. And, if you woke earlier, you would see the frost in the fields."
Lerryn toyed with the leather laces of her father's vambraces, ignoring his comment about her sleeping habits. "I'll get to see Beneira today, won't I? She's my favorite cousin!"
"Yes, child," Lerryn's mother Alleyn settled in beside her husband and kissed the top of his head. "Beneira will be here as will all your cousins. This is our year to host the families."
"Good; I like when Beneira comes here. I hate having to walk all that way to their place," Lerryn said, wrinkling her nose.
"All that way across Thundermist Village ," said Darnath solemnly. "I believe it takes all of fifty paces."
"Your legs are longer than mine," Lerryn said with an impish grin. "Everyone's coming here for Kinship Day, then for Feasting Day we travel to Aunt Farelle's house in Qeynos."
"Feasting Day…as though we feast but once during Frostfell," sighed Alleyn. "I can only hope we've enough in the house to last through Gifting Day!"
"Gifting Day is my favorite of all the Frostfell days!" cried Lerryn, bouncing up from the bench and racing toward the locked cabinet beside the door. She tugged at it, trying to pry open its door with her fingertips, then giving up and peering through the small keyhole.
"The gifts are in here, aren't they? Can't I open just a little one today? Please?"
"Not even a little one. You have not yet finished your chores," Darnath said, standing and pulling his wife into his arms and dancing her across the room. "No gifts till Gifting Day for anyone."
Alleyn smiled at her husband and said, "Except that you are here. That is the gift I wished for most of all."
"In my heart, I am always here," he replied. "Kinship Day is nothing without my women. Lerryn, finish setting the table for the families will be here soon. There shall be no Gifting Day for you if your work is left undone."
"After Gifting Day comes Frostfell Day, with the parade!" Lerryn cried, racing to grab the remaining spoons and set them out. "I cannot wait for it to begin!"