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Grandma’s Cheese Ball & Other Thoughts on Holiday Traditions

by Mary Luft

For the majority of us, when we think of the holidays, various traditions and thoughts come to mind.  You probably fall in one of the following camps:


  1. Mr. or Mrs. Christmas Cheer: You love the holiday season more than you love breathing.  In your mind, Thanksgiving is your cue to start the Christmas mayhem.  November hits and so does the constant sound of Christmas music.  Of course your tree is up and you’ve already started your Christmas shopping.  You’ve got traditions coming out the wazoo.


  1. Traditional Post Thanksgiving Clause: You don’t quite have the spirit of Mr. or Mrs. Christmas Cheer but you are a lover of Christmas and your home reflects that however, you strictly follow the “no Christmas until after thanksgiving” rule.  You love this time of year but you’re not nutty about it.  You do believe in traditions but they can look different every year.


  1. Rudolph the Tolerant Reindeer: You don’t not like Christmas but you don’t jump for joy at the thought of it either.  It comes and goes and you come and go with it.  You’ll join in on a party or two and show up for family events but there won’t be any Christmas cheer coming from your end unless your provoked.


  1. Full On Scrooge: Christmas is not your thing. You don’t care for the music, the cheer, the traditions, and the crazy shoppers & traffic you have to put up with.  It’s not important to you and the 25th of December is like any other day to you.  You’re the one that volunteers to work on Christmas every day.



I fall someone where between Mrs. Christmas Cheer and Traditional Post Thanksgiving Clause.  I have no problem cranking my Christmas music before Thanksgiving (My excuse is that there is no such thing as Thanksgiving music.  If there was, I would listen to that).  I also love giving gifts so shopping for others for Christmas feels like a gift I can give to myself so why not start that as soon as possible?  I also love the excitement and anticipation surrounding traditions.


For me, traditions are always connected to different people.  It’s a symbol of a connection that I am looking forward to and something I can hold onto every year.  For example, my grandma’s cheese ball.  It is one of my absolute favorite things ever and I look forward to it every Christmas.  While it’s so delicious and gorging on it gives me joy, it’s not the cheese ball itself that gets me excited.  I have the recipe and can make it every year if I wanted to.

The cheese ball makes me think of my grandma and the whole experience of Christmas Eve.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents house.  Now that I’m an adult it looks different and in recent years, it’s one of the only opportunities I have to see some members of my family.  Because of that, it’s taken on a whole new meaning and I appreciate it that much more.  I could say the same thing with all of the other holiday traditions I have.  They are all a symbol of the connection that I get to have with the people in my life that I love.  The Christmas music, the decorating, the shopping, and the food all point me to what I value most and that is the relationships I have.


No matter where you fall on the holiday spectrum, I’m sure you can appreciate the value of community and spending meaningful time with people you care about.  If you don’t have any holiday traditions, it’s never too late to start your own!  Someone I know at Compass started a tradition last year where she threw a holiday party for clients who need somewhere to spend the holidays.  She spent weeks preparing and shopping and thoughtfully planning out what her guests would enjoy.  It was such a success and she’s doing it again this year which makes it a tradition.

Just for fun, here are a list of some fun traditions.  Comment below if you have any of these traditions or comment with your own traditions!


  1. Exchange Christmas pajamas.
  2. Host a family cookie party for the youngest generation
  3. Make Christmas pizzas
  4. Get yourself a family elf
  5. Recapping the Previous Year-spend time reflecting on everything that took place in the last year
  6. Party it Forward- participate in a charitable activity like volunteering for a shelter or giving gifts to a family in need.
  7. Designing Ornaments
  8. The Christmas Pickle
  9. Cookies for Santa
  10. Advent Calendar
  11. Send out Christmas Letters
  12. Set up the Christmas Tree
  13. Displaying Christmas Stockings
  14. Hang outdoor Christmas lights
  15. Set up the Nativity Scene
  16. Build a gingerbread house
  17. Read a Christmas book
  18. Tour outdoor Christmas displays
  19. Go Christmas caroling

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