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10 ways to remember a loved one at Thanksgiving

family having thanksgiving meal together

For most people Thanksgiving means three things; food, family and football, but for others, it’s also an occasion to remember a loved one who meant so much to everyone.

It’s a time of joyous celebration, that can be can poignant and emotional for families and friends who are missing a loved one. Here are 10 ways of including their memory as part of of your Thanksgiving Day.

apple pie

Serve their favourite food

Preparing their favorite dish or a secret recipe they handed down, may bring back happy memories as you raise a glass to them around the dinner table.

thanksgiving lights and candles

Light a candle in their memory

Dedicate a special moment to your loved one by lighting a candle and truly embracing the togetherness of Thanksgiving. Say a few meaningful words, or recite their favourite poem, to honor their life and memory.

happy children

Donate to a charity in your loved one’s name

There are many non-profit organizations that could benefit from a donation in your loved one’s name, whether it’s a cause that meant a lot to them, or a foundation that’s working to beat cancer, or supports other families who have been bereaved.

table setting

Set a place at the table

So many meaningful conversations take place around a dinner table. In some cultures, it’s tradition to set a place for a loved one on special holidays. Whether you set an entire table setting aside, or simply include a memento or photograph in the table decor, this is a special way to keep your loved one’s memory alive while enjoying a meal with the people closest to you.

thank you written in wooden blocks

Give thanks

Most families take the time to share what they are grateful for during Thanksgiving. Why not take turns to express what you are most thankful for about your loved one? This is a lovely way to include someone special in conversation and reflect how they are still an important part of what makes you family.

old video tapes

Get out those old home movies

Watching old home movies is a wonderful opportunity to reminisce over special memories. It’s a chance for the whole family to laugh, cry and relive special moments.

scrabble letters

Start a new tradition

Was your loved one a competitive Scrabble player? Or, a fan of a particular nightcap before bed? Introduce it to become a part of your family Thanksgiving tradition, in tribute to your loved one.


Take a roadtrip to their favorite place

Whether your loved one’s favorite place is the park down the road, or a beauty spot a little further out of town, talk a walk or a drive there. You could place a little note, prayer, poem or pebble for them in a hidden place.

tulips in vase at home

Decorate your home with their favorite flowers

In the words of former First Lady, Claudia ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” Flowers are a great way to brighten up the table at Thanksgiving, especially when they are your loved one’s favorite. In the 19th century, every bloom had a meaning according to the Language of Flowers, which may inspire you. Pink carnations, for instance, meant: ‘I’ll never forget you’ while rosemary is for remembrance.

mom and daughter praying

Say a prayer

If you are of faith it may already be an important part of your family’s Thanksgiving tradition to say a prayer before your meal.

Minister and writer, Reverent Kate Norris was inspired by the memory of her Mom, to write a beautiful Thanksgiving prayer for families to share in memory of those they loved:

“In the midst of this great loss,

we are reminded of the great love that is still present,

for death does not take away the love we share.

We see our loved one in the table we set,

in the food we eat made from recipes they passed down to us,

and in the stories we tell.”

You can read it in full on Rev. Katie’s website. If you’re not religious, you could hold hands around the table and share a moment of silent contemplation in memory of your loved one before your meal.

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