On Tuesday, my Dad turned 70.
Now, I am not the only one who has a fantastic Dad and loves him to bits; my fellow blogger Kay whom I also consider a friend has mentioned her Dad several times on her blog. A lot of people have had a troubled childhood, endured abusive parents or neglect, or they lost their parents early. Therefore, I consider myself extremely lucky and do not take having my family close by (in more than just the geographical sense) for granted.
My Mum's birthday was in August, and I posted about her party here. But now, as I said, it was Dad's turn! Having one's birthday at the end of January usually means (at least if you live in Germany) that a garden party is not feasible. Most years, my parents invite their closest friends and the few relatives of my Dad's who live in the area (both his sisters are far away, one in the South of France and the other one on Bornholm, an island in the Baltic Sea), my Mum prepares a delicious meal and we gather at their place, with tables and chairs and settees being shifted about in order to accomodate everyone. But a 70th birthday calls for something special, they thought, and so about 25 people were invited, too many to seat in my parents' living/dining room; holding the party at a restaurant was thus the logical option.
The restaurant was chosen and booked, and the invitations sent out.
During last week, several of those invited cancelled - in some cases, it was obviously a rather lame excuse, while in other cases, we understood. Still, there was a moment when we were quite disappointed with the dwindling number of guests; in the end, though, there were 19 of us, and it was a very nice evening.
The morning of Dad's birthday started like this:
The snow made us fear even more would cancel, but all those who had said they were coming did indeed make it to the party.
On the invitation, my Dad had explicitly stated that he did NOT want any presents; instead, he asked his guests to donate money to a charity project he regularly works for. All over Germany, there are 870 shops were poor people can shop for groceries at prices so low things go almost for free. The goods (groceries, bread, fruit, vegetables etc.) are donated by bakers, farmers, greengrocers, supermarkets and so on; they are sometimes on the "sell before" date (never past), or the fruit does not look nice enough for the supermarket but is perfectly alright, or the companies donating them are simply doing a good deed.
Voluntary hands are always needed at the shops to unpack and sort the goods, to make sure only those who really are in need are getting in, and to work at the check-out. My Dad works in one such shop in our town almost every week for an afternoon, and the work is rather demanding (and unpaid, of course) both on a physical and emotional level. I admire him very much for it, and it is such a wonderful gesture of him asking his friends to give money to the project instead of buying things for him that he does neither want nor need.
For those of you who understand German, you can find out more about this particular charity here.
My sister, Mum, Dad and I went to the restaurant early enough to decorate the table.
Of course the tablecloths and cutlery were from the restaurant, but we brought the flowers, name cards, candles, candle holders and napkins.
Just before the first guests arrived, my Dad took this picture of me and my Mum (yes, she has allowed me to use it, so, this is a première - my Mum appearing on my blog!):
Here is a close-up of my place at the table before the food was served, with the name card (my Mum had them printed, using pictures she'd taken in their garden, and writing the names by hand):
There was plenty of food and something for everyone (not easy when you have to consider the various requirements of vegetarians, people who can't eat lactose, others who need gluten-free food, and a diabetic or two for good measure); I dare say nobody left hungry! The menue in itself was set, with a choice between three different main courses for everyone, while dessert was optional and à la carte. My choice was this.
Mouth-watering, isn't it?
When everybody had left, we took the table deco back home, and I got two of the yellow primula. They look very pretty on my window sill now:
It was, all summed up, a very nice birthday party, and I hope my Dad will be around for another 70 years :-)