98 Christmases

For as long as I can remember, I have associated December 24th not only with being Christmas Eve, but also with being my grandfather's birthday. This year, he turned an impressive 98 years old.

Most of my Dad's family got together to celebrate today, at the mountain chalet my grandfather built with my grandmother more than 60 years ago. It's beautiful and rustic, with a view of the lake and the mountains, antlers on the walls, and on days like today, a roaring fireplace.

We had a family raclette, and then two different cakes, one after the other. But in between, my aunt brought out a set of four tall candles and set them down in front of my grandmother. Two of them had 25 notches on them; the other two had 24 each.

"That makes 98," she explained, rather proudly.

My granddad took a deep breath ... and blew out two of the candles. And then he pretended to run out of breath and collapse, dropping his arms to his side and his chin onto his chest.

And then, a split-second later, he perked up with an impish grin, took another breath, and blew out the remaining candles. He's 98 freakin' years old, and still has a sense of humor, too! The whole room burst into applause.

I truly hope his wish comes true.

Joyeux anniversaire, grand-papa, and a Happy Christmas Eve to all!