WAXAHACHIE, Texas — Christmas is special for many reasons. But for this family in Waxahachie, what makes this holiday meaningful is a rotten piece of cheese.

"It's more than just a silly piece of cheese,” said Grant Ward. “It's part of a tradition that we can sit around and laugh. We're able to share memories of our childhood."

It started 26 years ago as a holiday joke.

That Christmas, Ward and his cousins hid a piece of cheese from their great-grandma Catherine.

They never expected to hide the cheese more than once, but when they came back for Christmas the following year, the cheese was still there.

"We decided then at that point to leave it in there and see how long that would last," said Ward’s cousin Corey Robinson.

They kept the cheese hidden from their great-grandma for 26 years.

"Then it was like a tradition we would run in there, that was the first thing we did," Ward said.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago they finally came clean and showed her that piece of cheese.

"Before I could even tell her what it was, she got that piece of cheese and throws it in her mouth and I said, 'No, no, no, no, no,'" Robinson said.

Unfortunately, this Christmas is the last time they’ll hide the cheese. Not because it’s spoiled; that happened years ago. But earlier this year, great-grandma Catherine passed away at the age of 102.

"We can keep it, look at it and see the memories of everything that's happened through the years," Robinson said.

"The bond and the memories that you create just over a piece of cheese and the laughter, we'll sit around and talk about the cheese and we'll share memories of Mamaw when we do it," Ward said.

Like that cheese, for 364 days of the year, the joy of Christmas may seem lost. But, really, the opportunity to find love and kindness is often hiding in plain sight.

More on WFAA: