One of the things I love about Christmastime is getting together with extended family at my sister's house. It's the one time of year that my siblings are all together, along with my nieces and nephew. Throw into the mix cousins, their spouses, a handful of dear friends, and of course...a couple truly awesome 2nd cousins who are also brilliant hypnosis subjects. Presto. All the ingredients for a perfect holiday get-together.
Last year at Christmas I was still studying hypnosis under the ingenious Nathan Thomas through the International Association of Teenage Hypnotists. At that family Christmas gathering, amidst all the food and fun, I first hypnotized my cousin Patty's remarkable son Brandon and my cousin Joe's wonderful son Caleb. Both of them, being very bright and cheerful young men, proved to be excellent subjects. But this year was the first year I had arrived to the party as an official Certified Hypnotist. We's was gonna haves us some fun.
Now, we had fun with our hypnosis session last year, make no mistake, but due to the actions of our junior town criers, my nephew Bobby and Caleb's little brother Ethan, racing through the house screaming, "Uncle Brain's HYPno-tizing people! Come SEE!!!" we drew an unexpected audience that put an unintentional damper on things. Having a cluster of relatives and curious passersby crowding the room and staring, a few shouting out unwelcome suggestions, the littlest ones giggling as if they've been sucking down ten-gallon vats of nitrous oxide, and an overexcited mom snapping pictures can all quickly drain the spontaneity from the room and make even the most brilliant subject tense and unresponsive. This year I planned on it being different.
Now, before I go on to describe my holiday hypnosis sessions, there's something else you must know. Thrilled as I was to share my good news with the family that I had passed my certification exam with flying colors, after the initial glow of pride and congratulations were shared, I quickly became the butt of many good-natured jokes and prods. Busting chops is an essential part of any show of family affection, and an Irish Catholic family like mine, perhaps a bit more so. My cousin Mike, an accomplished athlete as well as a medical professional, led the charge with some "probing questions" and as often as not had us all laughing. I happily played the straight man and answered without scorn or derision. ("No, I can't hypnotize your dislocated vertebrae to go back into place.") When Mike asked me "What if the subject is just a hopeless nutcase beyond the help of hypnosis, what do you do then?" I smiled and told him I'd guide the subject to the nearest phone book and help him look up a good doctor.
When our festive banter had died down, I was eager to have some hypno-fun with my 2nd cousins. Knowing that the younger boys would be hovering around waiting to pounce the moment I drifted toward my intended subjects, I devised a plan. I first approached Caleb, pretending to talk to him about something else (the youngsters were on us in a heartbeat, What are you doing? Are you hypnotizing yet? What's going on??), but I discreetly told my cousin's son to wait for me to leave the room, count to 20, and then follow me. It worked like a charm. Since we did not depart together, the little kids were none the wiser. Caleb and I found an empty room in the large house and had no end of fun.
I introduced Caleb to instant induction, which he took to like a fish to water. He face-planted into a spongy contour pillow upon the soft bed and seemed to love it there. We had fun with name amnesia, and I graciously gave him the name Marshmellow Fluff for a while (there was an incredible dessert tray in the kitchen that was clearly still on my mind) and later I gave him his "real" name back and he was glad to once again call himself Chocolatey Goodness (did I mention the dessert tray?). As Caleb realized the silly name was not truly his but could refer to himself as nothing else, he got to see me turn invisible and make a teddy bear seem to dance about on its own. Caleb himself found he could teleport from one spot in the room to another as I erased his memory of walking the distance to and from. At one point Caleb found his face stuck fast to the soft pillow, something he didn't seem to mind at all.
An approaching winter storm cut our visit short. The 90-minute car ride home would have to begin immediately if we were to avoid the blizzard. I quickly brought Caleb back to the waking world and removed all triggers, but he was left feeling fantastic and with a bright smile on his face to prove it. I hurriedly sought out my other subject Brandon, and gave a very speedy example of ZAP hypnosis, putting him under in less than a second. One of the younger kids was on hand for that, and seeing Brandon's fluttering eyelids and gently swaying form, the little one declared, "He's faking! He's not really asleep!" I told the lad that no, Brandon was not actually asleep, and that no one was controlling him. But because Brandon was so smart, he'd respond wonderfully. Which of course he did. I left the freckle-faced and handsome Brandon energized and feeling great. We both wished we'd had more time.
As coats were thrown back on and boots jumped into, I made my rounds and said my rushed goodbyes. Various cousins, Mike included, sat on the couch before the big-screen TV and wished us a safe trip, with a few jokes about my newly-certified skills thrown in. I looked at Caleb seated on the end of the couch and said to him, "Wanna show 'em what we can do?" My prize subject just smiled and nodded. With a quick arm pull and a command of "Sleep!", Caleb was out like a light, head flopped onto a thick comforter and body limp as a rag doll. Suddenly all jokes were forgotten. As I rested a gentle hand atop my 2nd cousin's head, suggesting how relaxed he was and how good he'd feel, questions came in surprised whispers, "Is he faking that?" "Is that for real?" "Holy cow, he's really under!"
I left Caleb with an extra burst of positive energy and even an added plus that all the food he chose to eat the rest of the evening would taste even better than it already did. Shared hugs and kisses were peppered with new remarks, along the lines of "Can you use that to help with migraines?", "I so need to relax at work!", and "I have this friend who wants to quit smoking." As I left, I was smiling as broadly as before, but this time for altogether different reasons.
Like I said, I love Christmas with the family.
Blessings to all,
[Photos shown above: My charming and delightful 2nd cousin Caleb, shown BEFORE and DURING hypnosis. We need to do this more than once a year!]