IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON. Along with the joy and anticipation comes a considerable amount of stress and depression for many people. We just don’t have the time and money to do everything we want to do.

A former colleague of mine was at a seminar about 15 years ago, when the lecturer explained stress management by raising a glass of water and asked “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers that were called out ranged from 20 to 500 grams. The presenter replied “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it,” he said. “If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.”

The audience nodded in agreement. “In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes,” he said.

He continued “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.

“So before you return home from work, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can.”

This seems like good advice for the holidays. Why not take a while to just simply relax? Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now and don’t pick it up again until after you’ve rested awhile.

You might be surprised. When you go back to pick up what seemed like a burden, the cause of the burden may have passed. You’ll wonder why you worried in the first place.

The holidays are a special time for families. Life is short. Enjoy it.

* * *

IF YOU LIKED that message, you’ll also like this example of how some people put life’s challenges into perspective. It’s titled “The Small Tree.” The author is not known.

I hired a plumber to help restore an old farmhouse and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit and his ancient one-ton truck refused to start. I offered him a ride home.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation.

His tanned face was wreathed in smiles. He hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward, he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me.

I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier. “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure, those troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children.

“So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then, in the morning, I pick them up again.

“Funny thing is, when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before,” he smiled.

It’s the holidays, Christmas and New Year’s. Wouldn’t we all be better off and have better home lives if we all had a similar routine?

* * *

HERE ARE a few items of wisdom that have accumulated in my comments file. For example “In life, it’s important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong.”

Society has become so skeptical that the truth actually bothers people. When did common sense become so controversial? A word of warning “Don’t trust everything you see, even salt looks like sugar.”

A smart person knows what to say. A wise person knows whether to say it or not. Abraham Lincoln said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin recognized greatness. Einstein said to Chaplin “What I admire most about your art is its universality. You do not say a word and yet the world understands you.” Chaplin said about Einstein “It’s true, but your fame is even greater; the world admires you when nobody understands you.”

Thomas Sowell said “Since this is a time in history when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice’ tell me what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?” An old southern proverb reads “The ones doin’ the accusin’ are usually the ones doin’ the doin.’ ”

Very true today. In America, they call it “lobbying” by political action committees and special interest groups. Everywhere else in the world, they call it bribery and corruption.