Holiday season! Here we go! Get fucking jolly! Or else! Between December 1 and 31, many of the world’s major and minor religions will celebrate a holiday. For some folks this is awesome. Getting together with family and friends can be a welcome recharge as we cruise through the darkest part of the year—especially if it’s the only time we get to see these people. But for some, the holidays are a bummer. Stress around money, sad vibes, friction with relations: The holidays bring all that stuff up. And even if we are having a good time, all that running around and travel and shopping and work parties are exhausting. You may be tempted to escape the crunch with weed, but … don’t.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t get high at all. Cannabis is a benevolent, healing plant. Its capacity to manage tension and depression are documented far and wide. Its ability to create connections among people is real. With cannabis legalization slowly spreading across the country, it’s very possible your generally uptight in-laws are now living in a green state, and at the very least you have a little common ground to talk about. Some canna-fudge or even a beautifully rolled joint might be just the thing to crack the ice. That is pretty special.
When I went through chemotherapy, weed was like this tiny vacation I got to take for a half hour or so, and I could forget, for a little while, that I was sick. These short breaks from my “default reality” were a required component for me to stay hearty the rest of the time.
But weed can be a method of evading reality. A very effective method. For people with a substance-abuse issue, OCD, anxiety issues, even permanent physical ailments, cannabis can be a way to avoid the painful reality of our current world—which is, to be sure, stressful enough without the holidays. Weed can swiftly become a numbing agent. We disconnect from life, lost in our doubts and fears. We become alienated, from each other and our own powers of transformation. I have deep admiration for folks with addiction issues who, at times like this, decide not to use drugs but choose to stay conscious and sensitive.
Being able to take some tokes and disconnect for a short while is a tremendous privilege. You might not want to hear that, but it’s true. Numerous folks around the planet don’t have the choice to turn off their reality. If they even have access to cannabis (or other substances), they are still people of color, still Muslim, still trans, still queer, still women, still living in Syria, Libya, or Alabama. The act of getting intoxicated might actually compromise them further.
I recognize that cannabis can be a healthy element in your self-care routine, but make sure it’s only part of your routine. During this holiday season, if you are using cannabis to mitigate stress, try adding meditation as well. Remember to go for walks to get away from stressful situations, even if it’s just to smoke a joint with your Auntie.
And if, at the close of your day, it helps alleviate the stress, if it takes the edge off life a little, AND IF IT’S SAFE FOR YOU TO DO SO, take a puff or two. Eat a canna-cookie. Hell, leave a couple out for Santa and Krampus while you’re at it. But don’t go numb.