You lie on a soft chase lounge of dark leather. You are in a small but well-appointed office. Seated next to you is a woman in a dark blue pantsuit. She is in her mid-thirties, with her shoulder-length brown hair neatly combed. A small pink hairclip just above her left ear is the only personal touch she has permitted herself. She has the demeanor of someone who is used to smiling, even though she isn’t right now. Behind her, you can see the snow is falling in fluffy drifts through a large window. The walls are decorated with diplomas, licenses, and awards of various kinds, although most of them feature the word “hypnotist” somewhere. The office is an image of professionalism, with a reef tied with a bright red ribbon on the door as the sole concession to the Christmas season.
She is slowly reading through a sheaf of papers. You just handed them to her, although then they were in a gift-wrapped box that now sits crumpled on her desk. She has a look of concern on her face, which is occasionally interrupted with raised eyebrows and wry smiles as she pours over the document. Finally, she finishes the final page and rests the sheaf on her lap. She folds her hands under her chin.
“Do you have any idea at all what I just read?” she asks in a conspiratorial whisper.
You smile slightly and shake your head.
“I see. I must say this is a very unusual request for me. Most of the people sitting where you are sitting are here to quit smoking or lose weight. I don’t usually handle…” she glances down at the papers in her lap. “…recreational hypnosis.”
You nod your head. You understand her reluctance. You don’t know what’s on the papers she just read, but considering who wrote them, they probably are a surprising read. Especially for someone who doesn’t share you and your girlfriend’s…unique interests.
“Now, we’ve already signed all the usual legal waivers that accompany this type of work, but for strictly ethical reasons, I have to ask you a very serious question.”
She leans forward, and drops her voice. “Once we’re finished, what’s written here is going to be in your mind, perhaps permanently. Usually the effects of a hypnosis session fade over time if they aren’t repeated and reinforced, but there is a chance that some of this will affect you permanently. The fact that you are willing to undergo this procedure without knowing what will happen worries me. So I guess the key piece of information I need here is…do you trust her? I mean, completely? Enough to open your mind and let her fill it with whatever she chooses?”
You smile and nod again, this time much more enthusiastically. You and your girlfriend have discussed this idea at length. You don’t know exactly what is in store for you, but you aren’t worried.
She smiles. “You must love her a lot.”
“This is what we decided to do instead of exchanging gifts this year.” you explain. “We’ve decided that we don’t want a bunch of material things. We just want Christmas to feel like a real Christmas again. Like it did when we were little. She’s getting a hypnotic script that I wrote for her, I’m getting one that she wrote for me.”
She leans back in her chair. “Sounds like you two know what you’re doing. Are you ready to begin?”
You inhale deeply. Your toes wiggle a little in anticipation. “Yes. I think I am.” you answer finally.
“Lean back and close your eyes.” she instructs.
She dims the lights in the room and closes the shutters, until only a faint white light from the window remains. A sound system is turned on. You inhale deeply as the lilting music begins. It is a classical orchestra, playing quietly, as though from a long way off. Just at the back of the sound is a soft jingling, as though of little bells tied to a horse’s harness.
“Take a long, deep breath. In, and out. In…and out. With each breath, more tension leaves your body. You don’t need to focus on the sound of my voice. You don’t need to focus at all. Let your mind relax. Let your stray thoughts play out, but don’t force yourself to follow them. Feel the tension in your limbs ease. Your hands unclench. Your arms collapse onto the couch. Feel the warm relaxation start to seep into you. Your feet are warm and relaxed. Your calves are warm and relaxed. Your thighs are warm and relaxed. Your buttocks are warm and relaxed. Your back…oh, it feels so nice. So much useless, unneeded tension just melting away. Your stomach is warm and relaxed. Your shoulders are warm and relaxed. Your neck is warm and relaxed. Your brain is warm and relaxed. The tension just falls off like a heavy load as you breath in…and breath out.”
“As the last of the tension finally seeps out, I am going to count down, from ten to one. As I do, you will find that my voice becomes easier and easier to listen to. It takes no effort at all to let my voice trickle into your thoughts. It is so easy to just relax and let my words become all that exists for you. With every number I say, more and more of your will becomes lost in my voice. With every number I say, your mind becomes more numb to everything except the sound of my voice. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Ten. Feeling light and relaxed. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Nine. Feeling calm and peaceful. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Eight. Feeling happy and carefree. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Seven. Feeling serene and untroubled. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Six. Feeling like you are drifting down a lazy river. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Five. Feeling like a leaf caught in a gentle breeze. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Four. Feeling like you are taking a long, hot bath. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Three. Feeling like you are falling asleep under a sky full of stars. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“Two. Feeling like you are slowly melting away into nothingness. Breathe in. Breath out.”
“One. Your journey is finally ready to start. Your mind is fully relaxed, fully open. My words are your reality. My voice is all that matters. When I snap my fingers, you will see and hear only what I say you see and hear. You will feel and think…only what I say to feel and think.”
“You wake up in your soft, warm bed. You don’t feel at all tired. In fact, it was a struggle climbing into bed, thinking about all the wonderful presents waiting for you under the tree. The moment you wake up, you jump out of bed, throw open your bedroom door, and charge down the stairs to the Christmas Tree.”
“The Christmas Tree is so beautiful. You can smell the rich scent of the pine needles even before it comes into view. The tree is strung with lights of every color, ribbons of lace, and strands of sparkling tinsel. Glass globes with mirrored finishes catch the light and reflect it back over and over. The tree dazzles you with its beauty.”
“Under the Tree are the Presents. Every one is a symbol of absolute love. You can imagine the time and effort your partner put into carefully wrapping each one, so that the glossy paper could catch the light of the Christmas Tree just so. Every one is carefully chosen just for you. You are so excited to tear open the wrapping paper and look inside, but you know that you must slowly savor each and every one. So much thought and care was spent on each one, it would be a shame to do otherwise. With trembling fingers, you reach under the tree and retrieve the first one. The wrapping paper is forest green and decorated with smiling images of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
“You carefully open the tapes, one at a time. You pull aside the shiny, crinkling cover. You open the box. You gasp with joy. Inside, you see a neatly folded pile of thick, woolly material. You pull it from the box and eagerly hold it up to yourself. It is bright white, and decorated with red and green pictures of snowmen, reindeer, and Christmas ornaments. It is a pair of pajamas. It is made to cover you whole body, even your feet. It has a zipper at the back, and a trapdoor with two brass buttons on the rear. You hug it against yourself and breath in its scent.”
“As you feel the soft, thick, cozy fabric, you feel something stir in your heart. A feeling of warmth, of joy, of intense rightness swells within you. You feel yourself open up like a flower in the spring. You feel the hard and cold places inside of yourself grow warm and melt like butter. You feel not just your own joy, but the joy of millions of people around the world, giving gifts and receiving gifts, saying “Thank you”, and “I Love You”, and truly meaning it. You feel the warm sweetness of millions of cups of hot cocoa, glasses of eggnog, home-made cookies and gingerbread houses. You feel the miasma of joy and peace that rises from so many people putting aside their daily struggles and worries for a while, and re-focusing all their time and attention on making those they love happy. You feel the Spirit of Christmas return to you, as though it had never left and had only been resting. You feel that you are happy to be alive, and that every day is a gift waiting to be unwrapped.”
“You find yourself wearing the pajamas. You don’t remember putting them on, but that doesn’t matter. You feel the warm embrace of the soft fabric all over you, and it feels like love. Your toes are warm in the feet of your new pajamas. You know that you will wear them every night from now on, and maybe during the day as well. Yes, definitely. There will be days when you will just spend the whole day in your wonderful, cozy pajamas, and never feel any need to change.”
“You eagerly reach out to grab your next present. This time the wrapping paper is royal blue, decorated with white snowflakes. You carefully open the tapes, one at a time. You pull aside the shiny, crinkling paper. Inside the box, you see a familiar face. It is your teddy bear. Not just any teddy bear, but yours. You squeal with joy and hug him to your chest. Your old friend has returned to you after so long.”
“As you press his soft body against yours, you feel yourself soften inside. Years of loneliness, anger, cynicism, and fear begin to disappear from your mind. You feel yourself returning to a time when you could really trust others, when the world was full of possibility, and strangers were just friends you hadn’t met yet. The ability to feel vulnerable, to feel open, to show your happiness or your pain to others without shame, returns to you. You know that you are not alone in the world, and that you never will be again. You hug your teddy bear for a long time, a little tear forming at the corner of your eye. After a long embrace, you kiss the bear on the forehead and tuck him under arm, where he will remain from now on.”
“The next box is light blue, and much smaller than the others. That doesn’t matter, though. You know that small things can be important. You know that small things can be wonderful. Christmas is made of small things, little acts of consideration, little kindnesses. The extra bit of sugar that grandma puts in her cookies. The way the snow collects on the windowsills. The way you feel when you walk through the neighborhood and smell the crispness in the air and see the lights come on. The moment when a snowflake lands squarely on your tongue. You carefully open the tapes, one at a time. You pull aside the shiny, crinkling cover. Inside, nestled in a bed of crepe paper, you see another old friend that you haven’t seen in a while.”
“Immediately, you squeal with delight and put it straight into your mouth. The rubber bulb of your new pacifier fills your mouth. You begin to suck it in…and out…in…and out. You feel that blissful calm descend on you as your mouth rediscovers that gentle rhythm. It feels so good to suck. You know that your mouth is going to busy with this for quite some time. You’ll want to have your paci with you all the time now, so you can suck on it the moment you feel even a hint of anxiety. As you suckle on your brand new pacifier, you know that your ability to appreciate small sources of joy is increasing. No longer will you dismiss the words of old Christmas carols as sentimental or saccharine. You will watch for and acknowledge all the tiny ways that those around you express their love. You understand the deep truth that every moment of life is precious, and that every bit of joy, no matter how small or fleeting, deserves to be cherished.”
“The next box is much bigger. The package is covered in gold-colored wrapping paper and tied with a white bow. You carefully open the tapes, one at a time. You pull aside the shiny, crinkling cover. There is no box. Instead, a plastic-wrapped package is revealed. In large, friendly letters, the package proudly declares the contents. Huggies Diapers, XXL, Double Thick. You tear open the package and retrieve one of the many, many diapers it contains. It is so luxuriously thick and fluffy. The glossy plastic backing catches the light from the tree. The front panel is decorated with cuddly toys, sitting under little Christmas trees. You smile as you imagine how good it will feel to wear these. Then, as though by magic, you are. You feel the thick cushion grow inside your new pajamas, swelling outward and pressing against you like the embrace of a lover. As your new diaper takes its rightful place on your butt, you feel yourself changing once again.”
“You know that going potty in the toilet is about to become a thing of the past. You can feel the muscles in your bladder growing weaker and weaker. You know that you will soon be wetting the bed, and having accidents in your pants, just like you once did all those Christmases ago. You’ll be helping mix up the cookie dough in the kitchen, or hanging up decorations outside, and suddenly you’ll feel that warm wetness that tells you that you’ve had another little accident. But that’s okay. You don’t have to worry about making it to the potty on time anymore. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has accidents. You know that you are loved, and that all your embarrassing little accidents will be taken care of. You know that your girlfriend will always forgive you and clean you up. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Helping others is important, but you must also remember to ask for help when you need it. Being back in diapers will help remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and that everyone needs some help now and then. From now on, whenever you feel that thick padding between your legs, you’ll remember to be more open to both giving and receiving help, and that you should forgive others when they make mistakes.”
“There is still one more present under the tree. This package is the largest one yet, so of course you saved it for last. There is a tinge of sadness as you run your finger along the smooth wrapping paper. It is bright red, and decorated with poinsettia flowers. You carefully open the tapes, one at a time. You pull aside the shiny, crinkling paper. Inside is a box. You pull off the top and look inside. You don’t see anything. The inside is dark, even with all the lights around you. You reach down into the dark interior, feeling around for your gift, but your fingers close on nothing. You lean over the edge of the box, stretching your arms further and further, until finally your sleeper-clad feet leave the floor and you tumble forward into the dark recesses of the box.”
“You wonder for a moment why you have found yourself here, sitting in absolute blackness, surrounded by the cardboard walls of your prison. You wonder why your girlfriend would give you this as a present. You hear a strange noise coming from all around you. It sounds like tearing paper. You feel your diaper grow wet and warm as you clutch yourself in fear.”
“The top of the box is pulled away, and you see a familiar face smiling above you. She reaches down and eagerly pull you from the box. She pulls you into a hug. You feel her soft, warm flesh press against you, and you feel her excitement. You understand now who this gift is for. You embrace and squeeze her tightly, knowing that you are all she wants for Christmas. After a long, passionate hug, you feel two fingers slip past the flaps that guard your butt from the cold. With a reassuring whisper, she lifts you off your feet and carries you to the changing table. Her eyes sparkle. The scent of baby powder mingles with the scent of pine needles. She unsnaps your new pajamas, and gives your belly a playful tickle. She gives you a loving kiss on the forehead. Then, with nimble fingers, she open the tapes, one at a time, and pulls aside the shiny, crinkling diaper.”