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High Minded: The High Holidays Stoners Do Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Graduation

Here’s how to walk that holiday tightrope even when you’re a little crooked.

Enter High Minded, where Tess Lynch revisits previously forgotten epiphanies, drags her lazy, leaden body on adventures and—whoa. I think this pudding's texture might improve if I added a handful of popcorn and some, like, canned blueberries:

On the best Fourth of July I ever had, I stayed home, roasted two chickens with some super-hungry stoner friends, and watched the tiny fireworks on the horizon from the street outside my apartment. It felt like a reflective and safe way to spend the holiday, curled up in a ball-shaped chair with plate numero dos of chicken parts and bread, drinking cheap Champagne and getting my mind warped by colors in the sky. This all went down at a reasonably safe distance from the kinds of explosive noises that make dogs everywhere crawl under sofas and the drunk drivers who—as my high school driver’s ed teacher reminded us—make July 4th weekend the deadliest time to go anywhere on wheels. This was a Fourth of July spent, instead, in a smoky womb: “Why aren’t there fireworks all the time, man? How do they program them to be all those colors—you guys?” My friends had passed out on various sofas and parts of the floor near the fireplace. It was a gas fireplace, so I shut it off and fell asleep in the ball chair.

Holidays are a special time for stoners: Jerry Garcia as painted by Norman Rockwell. In many ways, the holiday season was designed for us. How better to accomplish that Danish feeling of hygge—a cozy, calm, comfortable sense you get with the help of a deep sofa, giggly company, and a diverse array of interchangeable snacks—than with a substance that compels you to remain on that deep sofa? Of course, that comfort is also reliably harshed by the awful guilt of knowing that it would be more acceptable to everyone involved if you just got tanked on wine instead. But that’s kind of the nature of the holidays, isn’t it? A balancing act between what you want, and what others want for you. Here’s how to walk that holiday tightrope even when you’re a little crooked:

Thanksgiving. I think very fondly of the Thanksgivings I spent at home during college breaks. I’d sit down for big dinners with my family, then, many hours later, creep into the dark alone to raid my parents' kitchen for the leftovers. My parents keep the kind of kitchen that only non-weed-users can reliably maintain: there are always bags and bags of cookies, frozen gourmet soups, and the kind of novelty ice cream that lasts around four hours in my own freezer. To a newly hyper-culturally-aware college student, the guilt of being a white American on Thanksgiving was difficult to stomach, so as I made another plate of dinner piñata (everything my mom had cooked in the past two days in a heap, with gravy) at three in the morning, I attempted to substitute a lesser guilt: my guilt at being stoned in my parents’ house. While it’s certainly nothing like having stolen a country (and worse) from Native Americans, both acts involve taking food from very nice people who just want to share, to chat around a fire, and to eventually teach you to create your own dinner, preferably somewhere else. Clearly, I’m okay with smoking weed. But being sneakily stoned and finishing all the milk and Lucky Charms is both naughty and nice, and it gravitates more toward the former the older you get. Studied stoners can avoid the inevitable parental kitchen confrontation by planning ahead. If you’re on stuffing patrol this Thanksgiving, do yourself a favor and bake the stuffing in muffin tins—they’re way quicker to microwave in the middle of the night, and easier to sneak into your childhood bedroom to eat while you watch Beavis and Butthead.

Halloween is a no-brainer: everyone is high on sugar anyway, and hitting that holiday with a few spooooky hits from the apple for which you just bobbed means you’ll probably be wearing a less constricting costume and having a much better time than the legions of people who opt to drink ice beer and wander around crying at three in the morning on the fringes of a parade. Whether you roam as a stony ghost or merely freak the hell out of yourself with the power of movies, there is no guilt associated with a stoned All Hallow’s. One must, however, plan ahead: No mazes. No smoking before Knott’s Scary Farm or other scary theme parks where non-union actors grab at the leg of your pants through cobwebbed hedges. Certainly, no cemetaries. I don’t care how low you think your blood pressure is: I know at least two people who have noticed gray hair after a medicated lollipop-fueled Halloween romp at Knott’s Scary Farm.

Christmas, and Hanukkah too—anything with beautiful light sources and genetically-related people all sleeping awkwardly in the same house from their shared past—can really play with your mind. Getting high on Christmas is a great way to dazzle your eyes with lights and get creative with some boughs and berries and stars. It also lends a helpful adult boost to all those old familiar positive emotions (Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, rocky road, a crackling fire, a twinkling tree). But all too often, Christmas is spent among sober family members with sensitive noses, and it’s easy to become trapped in an Escher painting of remorse for the innocence of childhood, when reindeer did to your heart what drugs now do. The ghost of Christmas past may appear to whisper, "What would Grandma say?" Trudging up to your childhood bedroom, a photo of Grandma on the wall will follow you with her eyes. Then again, Grandma did so enjoy her cream sherry on the holidays, which is way harsher than a Thai stick.

Graduation is a popular occasion for getting stoned, though I think most people wish, in retrospect, that they had saved it for the day after. The day after graduation is the perfect opportunity to get high, because you can pretend it’s the first day of your life you can spend making your own (often stupid) decisions completely independently of your family and peers. That, and you don’t have to talk to a ton of people while wearing sunglasses and attempting to plot your escape from a folding chair. Just get through graduation, and where once there were college FishCo Wednesdays with $3 well drinks, there is now a studio apartment, a Playstation 3, and a bong you don’t have to share with five roommates. Sure, it’s nice to reflect on your time in college by lying on your back on some grass and staring at the sun-twinkling leaves, the brick facades, and your shoes. More often, though, high graduation days devolve into a dark carousel of uncomfortable conversations with authority figures and the parents of friends. Even more than Mothers Day or Fathers Day, you will be called upon to interact with adults who will ask you rapid questions, examine the whites of your eyes, and possibly enter your dormitory to inquire about the blacklight posters and get contact highs from your tapestries.

One of the reasons that marijuana is an incredible drug is because it turns any occasion into a sort of special occasion. Your senses are enhanced. Your normal activities (seeing a movie, mainlining some Tetris, brushing your hair) are accompanied by a heightened sense of anticipation. The last hours of the school day before you rush home to grab your Unicef box and Marge Simpson wig; the audible ticking of the clock before winter break; the minutes before you deglaze the turkey pan and the whole house smells like sage: These are not so different from the sensations you feel on a Wednesday night, bong loaded, Survivor: South Pacific all tuned up and ready to go. The holidays, and marijuana, celebrate a simple and good-hearted form of hedonism. The deep sofa. Entertainment on a box. Food. Other people. Hygge, or whatever. Just enough excess to imply that things are all right, at least for another year.

Find High Minded every other Friday at GOOD. Collage, as always, by Beth Hoeckel.

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