“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” – Bob Hope –

I ‘m working some last minute preparations today. I’m sure I am not the only one.

So, I wanted to share with you my #1 gift suggestion to place beneath your tree this year. I, like so many of you, have learned through the trials of life, how fleeting our time can be with the people we love. And, with life moving at the speed of a text message, we can sometimes forget to slow ourselves down and really drink up the moments with the people who mean the most to us. When I think back to my fondest memories of Stephen, it is never anything to do with material things he may have given me. It is always our late night chats, where we would solve all the world’s problems and some of our own as well. When I think back to my cherished recollections of my father, it is never the gifts he gave me that make my heart smile. It is the long and intimate conversations I would have with him, when he would tell me stories, and give me lessons on life from his own experiences, and tell me of his deep and unending love for my mother.

So, this year, give the people you love the best gift that can put under the tree. Your time and attention.

Write a note that explains your gift, wrap it up in a box and put it under the tree. You can do this for anyone that is important to you, but I will give you a couple of examples.

Imagine how your husband or wife or partner would feel if they opened a box and this was inside?To my Husband/Wife/Partner:

Life moves so quickly. And sometimes, I find myself thinking about how wonderful you are, but when we talk, it is about grocery lists, utility bills, and the upcoming week’s schedule. Sometimes, life just moves so darn fast, it is hard to slow down and appreciate the things that are most important in life. So, this Christmas, I decided to give you the gift of my undivided attention and time for us to nurture what we have. I want us to plan, each week, to take the time, just for each other.

Let’s make a promise to slow ourselves down, turn off the Blackberry, and give ourselves the gift of time. I want to hear you, I want to really listen. I want to understand your dreams, and have you smile and know that I am your biggest cheerleader. Life is short, and the moments that we really are present with each other are the ones we will remember always. The moments we are present are the real gifts. So, this year, I give you time.

Or, how about this?

To my precious child:

I know this is a weird gift, especially when you thought this box was just the right size for a Ipod Touch. I know it seems like you picked the short straw for presents, being that it is only words, and it does not plug in, or require any assembly. But this year, I wanted to give you something that is more important than any other present beneath our tree.

My time, just for you.

I know sometimes that I am busy when I get home from work, and I am half listening as you try to tell me about what happened in Science class. I know that sometimes I am preoccupied, thinking about the laundry, or the “to do” list. This gift changes that. I want each week, to set aside some time to give you my complete and undivided attention. You can talk to me about your life or ask me about mine. We can bake cookies or launch rockets. It’s up to you. But I just want to give you the gift of time so you know how important you are to me. I’m your biggest fan, and I don’t tell you that enough.

Your time and attention. The best gift you can give, and it requires no financing, no money down, no monthly payments. And, you don’t have to go to the mall today either.

I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from the musical Rent. What will you do with your 525,600 minutes in 2011? Make it count.

Love ya, mean it,

Kelly the Christmas Elf