Santa eyed the candy bar. He brought it to his nose like a fine cigar.
Santa considered them. He’d read somewhere of psilocybin’s apocryphal and documented medicinal and magical qualities to ease depression and trauma and elicit special insights. Christ, the lore was older than the Bible! He’d also read Carlos Castaneda. He’d listened to the Doors. But for some reason or other, Santa had never tried them.
Years ago, Heat Miser had turned him onto cannabis for pain relief and relaxation, and the results were astonishing. Somehow the word had leaked in cannabis circles and from then on, Santa received care packages from all over the world. Some of the groovy parents even left him cookies spiked with pot to ease the effort of delivering toys around the globe in one night.
Yes, cannabis had worked well for pain and as an occasional sleep aide, but it did nothing for his depression.
Santa sniffed the candy bar again. He considered his recent treatments for depression from three therapists, one a farce, one a dud, one a charlatan. They spoke in jargon. They handed him ungrammatical worksheets to fill out. They wanted him to pop pills and swallow agendas. They charged an arm and a leg and other body parts. They didn’t listen. Why listen when you already know the answers?
What the hell? Why not? There was nothing to lose but sadness itself. That’s what a real President would say at a fireside chat.
Santa ate half the candy bar. Was he supposed to eat the whole thing? What the hell? Why not? He ate the rest.
He remembered Heat Miser’s instruction to go outside to experience the mushrooms. He donned his parka, pulled on galoshes, and opened the door to discover a clear, bright day. He decided to walk around the complex on a trail hacked out by the elves during one of their periodic fitness kicks. It had somewhat gone to seed, kind of like Santa.
Santa walked and walked, trying to get out of his head, and failing. Nothing was happening. Shouldn’t I be high by now? What is exactly is being high on mushrooms? Dammit I should have reread Castaneda and listened to “The End” again!
He had almost finished the two-mile loop when he came to his firewood storage area. It was disorderly and in disuse. Chopping wood had once been his favorite pastime. When Mrs. Claus passed away, he’d given it up and ordered space heaters from Amazon. High winds had blown over his meticulously stacked rows and and now the wood was uncovered, scattered, rotting.
Santa surveyed the landscape around him. It seemed to becoming whiter, crystalline. He saw a fat round of fir on its side. He placed his right foot on it and nudged it upright. He saw his prized splitting maul on the ground and picked it up. What a fine tool, crafted with perfection by the hearty Finns. This was a tool that Thor should wield! Santa raised the maul above his head. He spied the wavy convergence of tree rings on the round, the sweet spot that all master woodcutters recognize if they want to execute an exact and effortless cut.
He brought the maul down on the round. Craaaaaaack! It came completely apart into three equal wedges. Santa smelled the sharp scent of split fir. He saw sap and resin secreting from the wedges. He was feeling something wonderful, unprecedented. He looked around. He was seeing everything.
The magic mushrooms had hit, but Santa was unaware of it.
Santa tossed the parka aside and went to work. He went to work with body and mind. He heard every craaaaaaack and split every round apart with one elegant swing. He was fathoming the grooves in the wood, their words of wisdom. He was acknowledging the brilliant whiteness around him by nodding his head.
As Santa worked, he absorbed his surroundings with an acuity heretofore unknown to him. The white was both shimmering and solid. It was all a painting, a masterpiece of landscape, and he was the painter, the subject, the paint and the canvas. Everything was merged, one.
Shit! The mushrooms!
It was not manic speed, but purposeful, measured motion. It was noticing beauty that you had taken for granted, always a great notion in life. Santa was feeling lighter, elevated, energized. This was no hallucination. It was pacific.
Then across a field of ice, Santa saw something emerge from the ground, something white with speckles of black on its chest. It began to move toward him. Something was flying. A bird came into clearer view. It was majestic white owl, and it was the first one Santa had ever seen at the North Pole and he’d lived there for 200 years or whenever Charles Dickens, Thomas Nast and Clement Clarke Moore invented modern Christmas.
The owl flew right over Santa’s head, blinked twice, and Santa watched it disappear flapping silently into the ice.
Ninety minutes later, the woodpile was organized and safeguarded and Santa was wheelbarrowing a load of firewood to the lodge. He was happy and whistling “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” which he was not!