Snow in East Texas is only slightly less rare than a parade of CNN reporters wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps while singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in downtown Pyongyang. This year, though, the impossible happened, and East Texas was blanketed with a couple of inches of powder. Only this time, it wasn’t the usual dunes of yellow pollen from a bunch of turned on pine trees that need to get a room.
For those unfamiliar with the experience of a snow day in the South, I offer a brief primer on the subject that will surely invoke such rigorous eye-rolling from readers north of Texarkana that they may blow a gasket in their optic nerves.
Step 1 – Go to Walmart
As soon as word gets out that there’s even a snowball’s chance (see what I did there?) that wintry precipitation might fall, East Texans ransack Walmart like survivalists preparing for an icy Armageddon that’ll deprive the earth of Wolf Chili and Wonder Bread. (I won’t even mention what we do to the Velveeta section.)
Step 2 – Play the waiting game
With little noses pressed up against windows anticipating the first falling flakes (and kids pestering parents for their turn to look), the waiting game begins, specifically waiting to see whether schools and workplaces will be closed, or superintendents and supervisors will be burned in effigy. This year, just as my daughters were lighting their torches, we were notified late in the evening that all of Texas (even Austin) would be closed until further notice.
Step 3 – Engage in unbridled celebration
News of a southern snow day often triggers an eruption of joy that may result in shattered eardrums and traumatized pets. After a riotous spectacle of cartwheels and spastic happy dances, my daughters finally got my wife and me to settle down, and we went to bed, looking forward to the winter wonderland we would witness the next afternoon when we finally got up.
Step 4 – Take an obligatory snow day photo of the house
When East Texans awaken to a snowy landscape, it’s important to run out and take a rare photo of the house and unspoiled yard before the neighbor’s dogs (and children) come over to deface it with graffiti written in Times New Urine font. Friends and extended family can expect to view this photo numerous times on Christmas cards throughout the next decade.
Step 5 – Have a snowball fight
It’s also popular to have a playful snowball fight - until somebody starts crying (usually one of the parents). Our snowball fight came to an abrupt end this year when I inadvertently pelted my youngest and most sensitive daughter dead in the face, prompting a few quiet tears from her and feelings of unrestrained self-loathing from me. If I’d actually been aiming for her face, I would’ve, no doubt, hit myself in the back of the head. In fact, in my little league baseball career, I was given the chance to throw exactly one pitch - and they still haven’t found the ball.
Step 6 – Build a snowman to change the subject
In East Texas, we don’t get much practice building snowmen, so the results can be humorous (and potentially disturbing).Because the layer of snow is usually thin, our snowmen can be a little dirty and grassy, and they often wind up looking like geriatric Wookiees in need of extensive cosmetic surgery.
Step 7 – Go inside because your rear is wet
If we’re outside long enough, it’s inevitable that those of us who don’t own polar attire and, instead, wear every pair of sweatpants we own (at once), will sit down and discover that East Texas snow is molecularly designed to transform immediately to liquid when it comes into contact with the human buttock.As uncomfortable as this is, it does present the opportunity to herd everyone back to the great indoors with warnings about frostbitten hineys and possible amputation.
Step 8 – Make a snow day treat
Once inside, the family can enjoy the bounty of nature in the form of snow ice cream. Below is my own famous recipe:
4 cups (white) snow
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large scoops of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Mix first four ingredients, and feed to children and pets.
Quickly eat the fifth ingredient yourself.
Step 9 – There is no step nine
The snow has melted by now. Turn the A/C back on and go to Walmart for more Velveeta.