Story and Photos By Sharon Letts
Santa sat upright and felt a pang in the small of his back. He tapped the GPS for a response. It never worked above this blanket of the redwood curtain. Hugging the coast, Santa used the ocean to keep him heading toward Humboldt and some much needed relief.
Humboldt County’s seat of Eureka stood out in the darkness, as he made his way around Humboldt Bay, momentarily hovering over the old Carson Mansion and the boats at Woodley Island.
Santa loved the grand Victorians of Humboldt and the mansion was the queen of them all. “Whoa, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen,” he said, pulling the reins hard, turning onto H Street where some of the finest Victorians still stood.
Sharp pain shot up from his lower back, and Santa commanded, “Easy does it, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen; old Nick is feeling his age tonight.”
Santa took a small bottle of cannabis tincture from an inside pocket of his coat Mrs. Clause had made especially for this purpose. “That’s your medicating pocket, pappa,” he remembered her saying with love. “One dropper full, every two to three hours,” his wife had prescribed.
The bottle was sorely low, “Not even a half a dropper full left,” he said to his antlered friends.
Rudolf used the power of his glowing red nose to sniff-out the best place for Santa to kick it, and motioned to a rather large painted lady with a wide, brick fireplace. The scent of weed filled the air above the dwelling.
“Nice one, Rudy,” Santa said, easing himself from the seat.
Santa lifted one of the red velvet bags from the back of the sled and made his way up and down into the chimney.
Once inside Santa scoped out the large living room and emptied the contents of the bag under a grand Christmas tree, then glanced at the proverbial plate of fresh baked cookies and tall glass of milk sitting on the hearth. He sat down on an over-stuffed chair by the fireplace, and waited for the last drops of tincture to kick in.
A brightly colored tray on the coffee table decorated with his image caught his eye.
“There I am! Ho, ho, ho!” he whispered to the family dog, now cocking its head with curiosity at the big guy in the red suit. “Here’s a cookie for you,” he said, handing the dog a treat from the hearth. “I’ve eaten enough cookies to last me a lifetime,” he laughed.
The tray held a bong, a small grinder, an ash tray, and a small jar with what Santa assumed was some of Humboldt’s finest, labeled “True Humboldt.”
“Ho, ho, ho!” he said, winking at the pooch. “Well, I truly need this!” he laughed.
Santa looked around making sure there were no signs of little ones in the house. He picked up the grinder and put a small amount of the bud inside. Once ground, he leaned in and inhaled the fragrant aroma. “Nice,” he smiled, packing the bong with a good sized hit.
After two bowls full, Santa felt pleased and relaxed. His lower back ache dissolved away as the smoked flower allowed the tincture to kick in, and he connected with his muse. He decided to let the reindeer outside rest a bit more and sank back into the chair.
“Damn!” Santa said, sitting upright, but it was too late. A man appeared at the top of the stairs.
The patriarch of the family, and assumed owner of the tray, leaned over the banister ledge, squinting in the dim light, unable to believe his eyes. Santa was pinching his stash!
“Ho, ho, ho!?” Santa said in an unsure and questioning tone.
“Well, ‘ho, ho, ho’ to you,” the man said, making his way down the stairs. “Looks like you are making yourself at home.” The man glanced at the tree, “Thanks for the swag, Santa. I suppose some Humboldt bud is the least I can do. Mind if I join you?”
“Oh, yes, please do,” Santa responded, handing the bong over to its rightful owner. “What do you call the maker of this fine magic?”
“It’s a hybrid,’ Santa, and quite good, if I do say so myself.”
“What’s the strain? Santa inquired, knowingly. “Slightly dank, I might add,” he chuckled. “Is this indoor or out?”
“Outdoor organic, actually – grown in the sun right here in Humboldt County,” the man said, proudly. “It’s a hybrid, heavy on Sativa. A combination of Gorilla Glue and Girl Scout Cookies,” he informed, impressed at Santa’s level of knowledge.
“Well, I should say, some of the best Christmas Eve cookies I’ve ever had,” Santa chuckled at his own wit.
“Yes, I imagine it is,” the man laughed with this jolly seeming aberration in the night.
“And I do appreciate it came from the sun, nestled in the soil of this sacred region,” Santa said with added respect. He knew the hardships the area had faced the past few decades – and the challenges to come since California’s recent nod to legalization.
Coming out of the closet on good medicine wasn’t easy. Mrs. Claus could make herbal tinctures all day long, but add the illicit plant of cannabis, and the conversation quickly changed to darker dealings in a covert world.
Changing the subject, Santa “Last year Rudolf’s nose took me to a house up the road, and I swear there was mold in it – made me feel just awful until I could get over to the Humboldt Patient Resource Center in Arcata for some tummy tea.”
Santa could feel himself trailing in the conversation. He tended to get a bit chatty when medicated.
“How do you know this stuff, Santa?” the man asked.
“Well, I read… hmm.” Santa cleared his throat, lifted the stem out from the bong, and blew the stale smoke out, as the man raised his eyebrows
“Actually, Mrs. Claus discovered the stuff for her arthritis… and then there was that elf with seizures – terribe sight, cleared it up fast… and Rudolph’s chronic headaches…” Santa stopped himself.
“My wife has breast cancer,” the man replied. “She smokes for relief.”
The two men sat in silence, passing the bong back and forth in a quiet meditation.
“God is with us,” Santa said, to the man’s grateful thanks. “Have you been able to get her that strong concentrate, what’s it called?”
“What concentrate?” the man asked.
“It was created by a man by the name of Rick Simpson,” Santa informed. “Up in Canada. He cured his own cancer and now many are using it with good results. Nice man, simple engineer, actually. Changed everything.”
“Well, you certainly are in the right place,” Santa acknowledged. The Emerald Triangle, which encompassed Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino – with Lake County down the road – was historic for the hybridizing up of the psychoactive THC heavy strains we have today. It’s also very same place that hybridized the plant back down to what’s called, the God plant – custom made for healing.
“Would you like another rip, Santa?” The man couldn’t quite believe he was hanging with Santa Claus, let alone passing a bong with the kindly man.
The faint sound of restless reindeers caused Santa to sit up.
“I’m good, thank you,” he declined. “Well, this sure has been a pleasure,” Santa said getting up out of the chair with some effort. Mind if I take a little something for the ride?”
“Not at all, Santa,” the man smiled, handing him a pre-roll for the road. “Safe trip!” he called to him, watching out the window as the sled lifted up and off into the Humboldt sky, heading further north across the never ending sea of redwoods.
Santa felt good, his back pain quelled, and he sang out, “Merry Christmas Humboldt, and to all a well night.”