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Dr. Catherine G. Ansuini isn't kidding around when she tells people how important it is to laugh away their unwanted holiday stress. In fact, she advises those who can't seem to smile or laugh to "sleep with a coat hanger in your mouth."

Dr. Ansuini will stress the importance of smiling and other humorous ways to cope with the hectic holiday rush during the Lockport Senior Centre's Lifelong Learning seminar "How to Handle the Holidays with Humor" at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 in the Centre, 33 Ontario St.

"The shortest distance between two people . . . is a smile," according to Dr.Ansuini, who is a tenured associate professor in the department of health and wellness at the University at Buffalo.

"Dr. Ansuini spoke at a volunteer brunch earlier in the year," said Paula Gaygen, director of the Lifelong Learning Center, "She was just hysterical. She does a great job."

Ms. Gaygen said she was able to book Dr. Ansuini because of the previous engagement and guarantees that the community is in for a good time -- as well as some helpful holiday advice.

The event is open to adults throughout the community, and tickets can be purchased ahead of time for $5 or at the door for $7. Dessert is included. Those interested should preregister by calling the Lifelong Learning Center at 433-1886.

"It's a going to be a little therapeutic and very entertaining," said Ms. Gaygen. "We all drive ourselves crazy with the holidays, and she will show us how to handle things a little more coolly and with less stress."

Some of Dr. Ansuini's advice will include a run-down on the benefits of laughter, which, she points out, "evaporates fear and egos, reduces tension, fights stress and helps us cope constructively."

Dr. Ansuini also outlines the anatomy of a laugh, which, she notes, "stimulates the heart and lungs, burns 78 times the calories than at rest and lowers pain and blood pressure."

She also explains that humor stimulates creativity and increases productivity. She advises those suffering from stress to "learn to laugh at yourself . . . not others and also to laugh out loud everyday."

The program should last about an hour, at which time a dessert buffet will be served, according to Ms. Gaygen, who said that the program will be the last for the Lifelong Learning Center's 1998 lineup. A schedule will be made available in January for the center's winter/spring courses.

"This is a great way for folks to get out and start the holidays," said Ms.Gaygen. "I know she will keep everyone very well entertained."