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See Savannah Guthrie help grieving family make new holiday memories

For young children who have recently lost a parent, spending the first major holiday without their loved one can be particularly difficult.

TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, who lost her father when she was 16, knows that truth all too well.

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Savannah Guthrie pays it forward to a family coping with loss at holidays

Play Video - 5:39

Savannah Guthrie pays it forward to a family coping with loss at holidays

Play Video - 5:39

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"The first Christmas was really hard because he did love Christmas so much," she said. "And his birthday was on Christmas.”

As part of the TODAY “Pay It Forward” series, Savannah wanted to help families grieving similar losses.

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“You wish you could hug those people. You wish you could say I understand," she said. "And when you lose somebody, the holidays take on this new significance."

Earlier this year, Meghan, Katie and T.J. Hoban lost their mother, Jen, to pancreatic cancer.

TODAY
The Hoban family with their late mother, Jen.

“It’s really hard. It's definitely rough. But we have a lot of family members and friends who are helping, and always know she's still with us,” Meghan said.

Katie noted it’s been difficult getting used to new routines since her mom died.

“You have to remember things and do things because she's no longer there,” she said.

All the children agreed that Christmas morning will especially be tough for everyone.

“There will always be a huge void without Jen,” said her husband, Tom Hoban. “She'd want us to laugh and have fun and not just to remember but not be sad.”

While Tom has turned to the Comfort Zone Camp, a non-profit organization that provides support nationally to children who have lost a parent or sibling, Savannah also wanted to help by providing the family with some new holiday memories.

First, she invited the Hoban kids to hang out behind the scenes of the TODAY set on the day a superstar came to visit: Adele.

Tom Hoban with his children, Meghan, T.J. and Katie, on the plaza.

She then took them to the top of Rockefeller Center for a birds-eye view of the surrounding area.

“I just think there's something really exhilarating about taking in a view like that. It makes you just feel joyful and excited and happy about life,” Savannah said.

A week later, the family returned for an evening at Rockefeller Center that included the lighting of the Christmas tree.

TODAY
Meghan, Katie and T.J. Hoban with their dad at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting.

“I never thought like ever in my life that I would even be skating on the rink,” Katie said.

Savannah hoped the night would help ease the pain from their recent loss.

“I hope it becomes one of their new favorite family memories,” she said.

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