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Savannah Guthrie lost her dad at age 16. She shares the Christmas memories that keep him alive in her heart

The TODAY co-anchor reveals the ways her late father made Christmas so special — and how she tries to do the same for her own children.
/ Source: TODAY

Savannah Guthrie has a sentimental reason for holding Christmas time so close to her heart — it was her late father's birthday.

"He had a lot of Christmas traditions in his family," Savannah said of dad Charles, who died when the TODAY co-anchor was 16. "It was really important to him to make Christmas special for us."

Savannah said that growing up, her dad would read from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

"My father would always gather us around and we would read the Christmas story in the Bible and we always really loved that, because I think it connected us to the holiday in a really spiritual and significant way," the TODAY host shared in the TODAY All Day streaming special, "Holidays in my House."

"Even as kids, we loved that moment of just being at my father's knee and feeling that there was really something eternally special about this day."

Savannah Guthrie as a child with her dad, Charles, left; and with her husband Mike and two children, Vale and Charley (who is named after her dad).
Savannah Guthrie as a child with her dad, Charles, left; and with her husband Mike and two children, Vale and Charley (who is named after her dad).Courtesy Savannah Guthrie

Her dad's other family tradition was a little less spiritual, a little more classic dad humor.

"My dad would always pretend like there was no way we could open any of our Christmas gifts early but always, always on Christmas Eve he would relent and say 'OK, just one' and so we would always get to pick one Christmas present to open on Christmas Eve," she said in the video, which was originally shot in 2020.

"We would open up a present and he'd say, 'Let's open them all!' and then we'd say 'No dad, no, we have to wait until Christmas!'" she said. "That was just a really sweet tradition we had with my dad."

As a mother of two, Savannah said keeping the magic of Christmas alive for her own children — Vale, 8, and Charley, 5 — is a priority.

"I think the fact that I lost my dad when I was 16, it makes Christmas even more special to us, because it was his holiday and that's how we felt and that's how he felt," she explained. "I think we hold on to Christmas even harder now, because it’s a tie to him and a tie to the past and to our memories. So Christmas just absolutely lives in my heart and lives in our family and I will spend every minute I have making sure my kids feel that magic, too."

Savannah said she also uses the season to focus on faith.

"I am sure to talk to my kids that this is a special night, because this is the night we remember when Christ came to save the world," she said. "In our family that is a living part of what we believe and I always want to tie them back to that. I want them to have fun — they will always have fun at Christmas — but I also want them to feel that magic of what their faith means to them, why the night feels so special; to go out, look up at the stars and imagine that star long, long ago."

She said, "I think that just adds to the majesty of Christmas and makes it enduring."

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