While Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day to come together with friends and family and give thanks for one another and for all the good in our lives, after the loss of a loved one, these type of holidays can prove extremely difficult. Whether the loss was recent, or in the distant past, the absence of a loved one weighs heavier on days like Thanksgiving, and other times of togetherness, because of all the memories of the past and the traditions once shared.
Finding new traditions though, and ways to acknowledge and celebrate loved ones during the holidays, is a great way to keep their memory alive. Below we have listed 7 of our favorite ways to remember loved ones on Thanksgiving Day and we hope you enjoy!
- Use Old Family Pictures as Part of the Table Setting
A beautiful table setting is always the backdrop to a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. Use old family pictures of your loved ones from Thanksgivings in the past as part of the table settings. We love this table setting using old pictures from CountryLiving.com. To dress it up a bit, use cute mini-photo frames or decorative photo holders too!
- Make a Dedicated Memory Table
It’s easy for everyone to miss your loved ones on a day like Thanksgiving, hence the elephant in the room, so why not invite everyone to bring an item or picture that reminds them of the deceased and display them all on a dedicated table for the day. Light a candle on the table in their memory and keep it on through the duration of the day to remind you of their presence. Add a cute sign like this one from the Wedbook.com and it’s a picture perfect memory table.
- Put Memorial Gifts at Each Place Setting
We might be a bit biased saying that this is our absolute favorite Thanksgiving memorial idea, but what better way to celebrate a loved one on Thanksgiving than creating a cute table decoration that doubles as a take home favor or gift for all your family and friends? Small memorial gifts, like our custom made and personalized seeds packets, create a beautiful Thanksgiving place setting idea and can be taken home for all of your guests to plant and enjoy for months and years to come.
- Create a Memory Tree
Sometimes, sharing out loud our memories and things that we are grateful for during Thanksgiving, especially after a loved one has passed, can be quite difficult –i.e. lump-in-your-throat anxiety- but sharing them on a piece of paper only to be individually read, is a great way to keep these memories alive and share your thanks. But instead of a plain piece of paper, consider cutting out leaves in varying colors and displaying them on a branch tree for everyone to read on their own, like this tree from HGTV.com.
- Share a Funny Story with Memories of Your Loved Ones
One of our absolute favorite Thanksgiving memories, was when our dad (a guy who has a very unique sense of humor that is often missed by others, leaving us red-faced in hand of embarrassment, but we secretly really do love), shared a Thanksgiving “story” with everyone before our Thanksgiving meal. A story that was premised on a joke, but tied with a funny memory of our grandmother and our late grandfather, his parents, that left everyone crying of laughter. It helped put our hearts at ease while celebrating yet another holiday in the absence of our grandfather, and made for one of the most memorable Thanksgiving Days to date. Consider sharing a similar “story” or joke with memories of your loved ones too.
(In case you were wondering what his “story” was about… THIS was the joke –excuse the extremely foul language- he left that last line out at the dinner table, but that Native American headdress you see in the picture above….well, that was our funny family memory. Yes, that’s the elastic from a pair of men’s underwear. Our grandfather’s to be exact. Let’s just say that our grandmother was very frugal and always made good use of otherwise garbage in the form of these elastic bands).
- Give Away Recipe Cards of Their Favorite Dish
Everyone has their own favorites when it comes to Thanksgiving dishes. From green bean casseroles, to candied yams and delicious stuffing, there’s always that one special dish that might remind you of your loved one who has passed. Whether they made it themselves, or just really enjoyed that one signature side, creating recipe cards of that dish and either using them as place settings or simply passing them out to everyone is a great way to keep their memory alive during your Thanksgiving dinner. Check out these super festive and free recipe cards from Photo-Party-Favors.com.
- Invite Someone New to the Table
While missing someone at the Thanksgiving table is hard, it also presents the unique opportunity to invite someone new to the table. Maybe a neighbor, a distant relative, a friend who recently lost someone of their own, or even a stranger. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, and how much more thankful can we be, than for the opportunity to have new company beside us, the food before us and the love between us?
If you have lost a loved one and created a new tradition or have a different idea for remembering loved ones on Thanksgiving, please share it with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear what you and your family do to celebrate their memory. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving full of new memories and maybe a few new traditions too!