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Clippings: The season for learning lessons

As far back as my memory reaches, my family has created ambitious cards. Usually, there’s some sort of pun, an elaborately staged photo or nonsensical farce. And that’s just on the outside.
The inside of the cards feature, in the smallest legible typeface, a letter that describes what my family — my parents, younger brother and younger sister and our hound Gus — have been up to this year. We decided to put a twist on that this year and instead of writing about our boring lives (Anna is now a sophomore in college, Stephen came in third in his golf league this year) shared our most humorous mistakes of 2014.
Because my family lives in New York, well outside the Independent’s coverage area, I don’t hesitate to exploit their candidness for your entertainment.
The tales included my brother’s error of packing his wallet and license in his checked baggage and subsequent interrogation by TSA agents to prove his identity, and my sister’s near break-in of a dorm room she later realized was not hers.
Mine, as the reader may expect, took place in Vermont. It goes, unabridged, as follows:
The snow this time of year — when the temperature hovers around freezing and produces wet, heavy flakes — is the best kind of snow, from a recreational perspective. By that I mean it packs easily, into whatever size and shape your heart desires. For non-recreational activities, like shoveling, driving or really any sort of locomotion, it’s a real pain. It also increases the likelihood you will hit your girlfriend in the face with a snowball.
It began as a normal December day, but the flakes began to fall as I drove home from work. My girlfriend and I decided to have dinner at Park Squeeze, the Vergennes haunt just down the street from our condo. When we emerged from the restaurant 90 minutes later, we discovered that three inches of snow had blanketed the cars and park across the street, and continued to fall. The quarter-size flakes obscured the streetlights and clung to every awning and side mirror. I ran my hand along the restaurant railing and, like scooped ice cream, it formed a perfect ball in my palm. I packed it with my fingers, rounding off the imperfections, and chucked it at a street sign. It sailed true and smacked into the aluminum with a satisfying clatter. I formed another and hurled it at an oak tree. Thwack! The joy.
H.A. started the car and I grabbed the brush to clear off the roof and windshield. As I cleared the snow from the back window I decided, in my snow-fueled excitement, to give her a scare. With the snow on the trunk I packed a snowball the size of both my fists until it would not compress any more. I crept around the corner and threw the wintry missile at the driver’s side window, where it would smash into smithereens. But to my horror, H.A. had rolled it down to clear the snow off, and the snowball disappeared into the darkened cab. What followed was the unmistakable, unforgettable sound of snow smacking against flesh. My heart sank and in that moment of paralyzing fear I wondered if I should make a break for it — home was only a few hundred yards away.
“Zachary!” exclaimed H.A., her voice muffled by what I could only imagine was a mouthful of snow. Fearing the worst, I ducked my head into the car where in the dashboard’s luminescence I made out her face. It was not a direct hit; half the snowball struck her face while the rest hit the inside of the opposite window and exploded onto every surface in the car. (Not quite like Marvin’s demise in “Pulp Fiction.” But close.) I wiped the snow from her eye socket like a melon baller and she shook some out of her hair. Her face seemed locked into a frown.
Long story short, after a heartfelt apology while hanging out of the car window, H.A. forgave me, on the condition that I never again throw snowballs in her general direction and stop acting like a lunatic each time the white stuff starts falling. I think I learned my lesson.

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