THE BLOG

How To Live To 101

10/21/2014 08:39 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST

This week my Grandmother, who was born the year after the Titanic sank, celebrated another big milestone -- turning 101 -- with her family. At her party, Grandma (aka "Crackerjack") helped us compile some of her habits and lifestyle choices to aid us in finding the secret to her long life.

Here's what we came up with, listed in no particular order of importance.

Grandma J's tips for living to 101

• Be bilingual

• Smoke for three decades

• Eat at least two tomatoes a day

• Drink tea instead of water

• Eat raw ginger each day

• Forgo multivitamins until you enter a care home

• Live in the "Sticks"

• Don't exercise

• Make new friends wherever you are

• Enjoy your red wine

• Fall in love via letters with a soldier

• Do crosswords and word games every day

• Don't ever miss "Jeopardy!"

• Develop a late-life crush on Peter Mansbridge

• Get friendly with cheese: from brie to Cheese Whiz

• Play Canasta and other card games

• Garden and enjoy cultivating flowers

• Don't pierce your ears until 85

• Don't learn to drive

• Make friends with rednecks but don't be one

• Always have a stash of treats

• Be a good conversationalist

• Live on the land, if possible

• Fight cervical cancer

• Knit constantly

• Enjoy people

• Collect coins

• Spend your childhood in Montreal

• Have a sandwich every day

• Be a good neighbour

• Spring ski in your bathing suit

• Enjoy the music of the '40s

• Wash potatoes and bunch carrots for a living

• Have three caesareans

• Go break a hip

• Have loyal kids

• Don't ever stress your Body Mass Index

• Avoid dentists

• Spend most of your life in Quesnel

• Enjoy your ginger ale or soda pop

• Always have a few books on the go

• Chuckle when people hug you so they're more likely to do it again

• Be nice to kids

• Be a minimalist

• Look for ways to give useful stuff to others

• Enjoy your pets

• Shop for bargains only

• Play the lottery occasionally

• Be honest in a kind way

• Love a veteran

• Favour only lemon desserts

• Retell jokes

• Have a beekeeper son give you bee products

• (So you can make your own salves and ointments)

• Get lots of sleep

• Be feisty when appropriate but have a soft heart

• Don't be an overachiever

• Phone people if they don't visit

• Don't stress about money

• Retell your favorite memories often

• Don't have too many vegetables per day

• But have a daughter hide vegetables in your food

• Make everyone think they're your favorite

• Enjoy making people laugh

• Shop the flyers

• Don't judge others

• Take naps every day

• Be a giver

• Be a taker but be thankful

• Start a conversation wherever you are: on the bus, in a grocery line, in the doctor's office

• And, finally, don't be intrigued by celebrity, politicians, or royalty unless they give you a 100th birthday card!

(My family thanks Queen Elizabeth, Steven Harper, Peter Mansbridge, and the mayors of North Vancouver and Quesnel for making Grandma's day special.)