Three years ago my dad passed away, about 7 months before Christmas, and that was the first Christmas I ever really had to consider ways to honor a deceased parent during the holidays, one of the hardest times to do so. Luckily, I was able to remember my Dad’s childlike love for Christmas, just like my very own love for the special holiday. I remember how he loved Christmas music, and lights, plus all the fond memories I held of him were always in the forefront of my mind. If you’ve lost a loved one near the holidays, or just anytime at all and you’re struggling to deal with ways to honor a deceased parent, try some of my tips from experience. It certainly doesn’t take away their loss, but it does help at least honor them in a positive way, despite the hardship and sadness you might face.
1. Make a Memory Wreath
One of the most unique ways to honor a deceased parent during the holidays is to make a memory wreath for them. You can get wreaths at craft stores of all kinds, and decorate it yourself with nothing more than a hot glue gun and some wire that you can use to attach different items like gold and cranberry ball ornaments, pretty handmade or storebought bows, and perhaps one or two of your favorite pictures of them. Hang it somewhere special and feel free to add anything else you like. It’s a great way to create something that also says how much you remember them.
2. Bake a Cake
This sounds juvenile, but hear me out. One of my favorite yearly traditions is to make my Dad’s favorite cake each Christmas Eve, light candles on it and wish him Merry Christmas right before blowing it out. I know it sounds simple, but my Dad always loved that cake, and making it for him each year, baking it by hand is such a special way for me to remember him. I’ve made it for him since I was a kid, and certainly wouldn’t stop now. Now, my family enjoys it as we remember him, and it always makes everyone smile.
3. Light a Candle
Many people light a candle in a certain window of their house, or on a table centerpiece at Christmas to remember a loved one. This is a special way to honor someone, and also an easy one to do.
4. Make a Tribute
Another great way to honor a deceased parent is to make a formal tribute to them, either in a newspaper, through a church sermon, or just holding a special tribute together with your family at their graveside. You can write something out, say it out loud, or have something printed in any kind of publication to help honor them as well.
5. Sing a Song
Many people sing a special song together in a group to remember a deceased loved one, perhaps on Christmas Eve, or on Christmas Day. You can pick their favorite Christmas song, or perhaps a special one that means something to you. Singing in a group around a candle is usually custom, and usually done around graveside, but you can do it anywhere, even in the privacy of your home.
6. Tell Stories
One of my family’s favorite ways to honor my dad each holiday is to talk about him. We tell stories about him all together, laughing and crying of course, but just truly enjoying the memory of him in our hearts. It’s such a nice way to embrace him and his spirit for Christmas and doing so helps us feel closer to him too, which makes things easier since he isn’t here anymore.
7. Hang an Ornament
I do this every single year, and actually hang multiple ornaments for my Dad on our tree. I have some that I made for him as a kid, as a teen, and as an adult, and ones that he gave me during childhood. Seeing these symbols of his love for me and mine for him on the tree each year is such a simple, yet truly effective way to honor him. He loved Christmas trees, and this is something I know would make him smile. Try it for your parent and if you don’t have an ornament from the past, consider buying one that reminds you of them to hang instead.
8. Say a Prayer
If you’re in a religious affiliation, say a prayer in honor of your parent just to honor them. You can make it as short or long as you want to, and I know wherever they’re at, they’re sure to feel your words and your love.
9. Hold a Celebration
One last way I like to honor my Dad each Christmas is to hold a dinner with our family at one of his favorite restaurants. We have a large family, and we invite his friends. I have real poinsettias on the table, which were his favorite, and we have a great time together laughing and chatting with one another. It’s a great time for people to get together and a wonderful way to honor your loved one.
If you’ve ever lost a parent, you know how hard it can be this time of year. I’ve learned that honoring my Dad makes things much easier than just being sad all season, though that does happen of course. I know he wouldn’t want me to be sad at Christmas, as I’m sure your parent wouldn’t either. If you’ve ever heard of a way for someone to honor a deceased parent, what idea do you like the best?