When we get stressed, especially when we have a big event approaching in our lives, we tend to hunker down, work harder and with more focus to get everything in place, finished and otherwise organized.

One important asset which we often miss is asking for help from those who could, and often should, be easing the burden.

It is so difficult to ask for help. We get responses like, "You want me to help?" "Let so and so do it, I'm too busy and it's not my job, anyway." "Why should I help you?" And so it is easier to carry the weight of preparations without reaching out to others.

However, this is not right and certainly not a balanced, organized way to approach the big events, holidays and celebrations in our lives. Everyone should contribute. Everyone! One way to get past the initial refusals and rebuffs we encounter is to offer them a choice.

"Brad (a son who has returned from college for the holiday season), would you rather help with the morning dishes or take out the trash each day while you are home?" "Shirley (a sister who is staying over for the weekend), there are two priorities today. The kitchen floor badly needs mopping, and the main bathroom needs a spiff. Could you do one or the other before we go shopping?"

"Honey (your dearly beloved spouse), I am really overwhelmed this week. Would you mind dropping off the packages at the post office on your way to work or picking up some milk on your way home?"

Please, my friends, let others help.

It doesn't have to be the big things, the important things, or the complex things they help with, but ask them to help somewhere. They will feel less like company and more like family, less like guests and more like friends. You will ease your burdens and they will begin to maybe, just maybe, carry part of the load that should be theirs in the first place.

So, courageously say, "Do you mind helping? Which would you prefer? Thanks for easing the way."

Happy holidays! And remember, sometimes the best gifts are the ones we ask for!

Marie C. Ricks is a motivational speaker and the author of a new book, "Project Organization, Quick and Easy Ways to Organize Your Life." To order her products, offer comments or suggestions, go to www.houseoforder.com. © Marie Calder Ricks/House of Order