5 Ways to Remember a Deceased Loved One This Christmas


This is my fifth Christmas season without my mother, whom I lost to early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and my second without my grandfather, her father.

Holidays are always hard for our family, reconciling the joy of the season with the grief that inevitably fills my heart each year.

I never want my loved ones to be forgotten, especially by my young daughters.

We have our missing loved ones’ photos and most beloved belongings — my mother’s framed artwork and family heirloom furniture and my grandfather’s boots, saddle and spurs — displayed in our home. We talk about Grandma Dixie and Great Grandpa fondly and frequently, but at Christmastime, I like to add a few special touches to aid our remembrance of them.

Here are a few simple ways to remember your deceased loved one in your family’s holiday celebrations this year:

1. Hang their stocking or holiday decorations.

Every year, I display my mother’s prized Santa Claus and reindeer decorations in the window of our stairwell so that every time we pass by them, we think of her.

This year, I also pulled my mother’s beautiful childhood stocking that was handmade by her grandmother out of holiday storage and hung it on her china cabinet in my living room, as a visible reminder of her love for gift giving on Christmas morning.

2. Choose a special ornament for your tree.

The year she died, I picked out a beautiful keepsake ornament to hang on our tree each year in memory of my mom. Finding it in the ornament box each year is a new favorite tradition.

3. Make their favorite holiday recipes.

One of my favorite ways to remember my mom is to pull out her old cookbooks and her grandmothers’ old cookbooks that she cherished, and recreate their recipes.

For Christmas, I like to make one of her favorites, like sausage cheese biscuits, pinwheels or ranger cookies. And I always drink spiced, hot apple cider and think of her in this season.

4. Donate to their favorite nonprofit.

A sweet way to honor a loved one’s memory at any time of the year is to make a donation to a favorite charity in their name.

At Christmastime, a wonderful way to honor their memory is by making a special holiday donation to a favorite nonprofit that helps provide housing, food, clothing and/or Christmas gifts to people who would otherwise probably not receive them this winter.

5. Continue their favorite holiday traditions.

My mom’s favorite Christmas traditions were serving and eating a fancy, slightly Southern Christmas Eve dinner, driving around to look at Christmas lights and then returning home to exchange family presents. Christmas morning was reserved for stockings and Santa gifts, of course.

While we don’t precisely follow this plan each year (Christmas Eve dinner has evolved into Texas tamales), we try to always incorporate traditions my mother loved into our children’s Christmas celebrations as a way of keeping her memory alive each season.

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Getty image via Stas_Uvarov


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