Thursday, 2 February 2012

A Birthday To Remember

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 :-)


  1. So very wonderful!! What a good, good man to choose the charity over presents. I'm happy you shared this great occasion. Happy, happy day to him.

  2. Hello Meike:
    This sounds to have been such a wonderfully happy occasion. Happy Birthday to your father and many, many happy returns!

    The table in the restaurant looked wonderful and we are sure that the food was delicious. What a treat for all those invited who must have felt very pampered by all the trouble you had gone to for them. And yes, we can imagine the disappointment at those who did not attend. In Budapest, we are constantly amazed at the number of people who seem to treat social invitations very casually and will often cancel at the last minute!!

  3. So glad it all went well and Wow, or even double Wow, we get to meet your Mum. I hope she realises it was not too painful and that we would love to see her again (and other relatives if they ever allow!).

  4. Herzlichen Glückwunsch an deinen Vater! :)
    Das sieht toll aus, und das Eis erst *Wasser im Mund zusammenlauf*
    Und wieder liegt bei dir Schnee ... und bei mir nicht.
    Naja, mit Schnee wär's wahrscheinlich nur noch kälter ;-)
    Achso, und das mit der Stiftung finde ich wirklich wirklich toll von deinem Vater!

  5. Hello Meike,
    why did you show a picture of your Mum and not of your Dad? It was h i s birthday!!! ;-))

  6. Nan, thank you! It was a happy day for him, I believe, as it was for us.

    Jane and Lance, at some stage, we simply decided not to be disappointed by those who cancelled but to be happy about those who were there. Some of them are not at all well healthwise, but they did not let the cold, their age, health and other circumstances get in the way.

    Double Wow indeed, Scriptor :-) As for other relatives - see my reply to gigunelsa's comment below...

    Danke dir, Mella! Mir ist es kalt genug, und noch mehr Schnee muss nicht unbedingt sein... ;-)

    Gigunelsa, well, I asked who'd allow me to show their pictures, and my Mum was the only one who said yes. I'd love to show a picture of my Dad but he has not given me permission.

  7. What a lovely party. That is a great picture of you and your mum, and what a nice lady she looks. Your dad must be very touched that he has such a loving family, and what a nice man HE must be to donate his presents to the charity he works for (or the money for them). A happy family is a great blessing. All best wishes to your dad for his next 70 years!

  8. Dear Meike,
    What a lovely post, showing us the beautiful snow out your window, the glowing golden light of the restaurant, the FANTASTIC photo of you and your Mum (please say thanks for letting us see her, she is so pretty...we already know that you are!), the namecards on the table, that yummy looking dessert and the yellow flowers on your windowsill...lovely! So happy that you had such a nice party for your Dad!
    And thanks for mentioning me and my Dad too, I think I was thinking of you and your party when I did that recent post about him!

  9. AHHHH that was the sweetest post ever! I am so happy for you that you still have your parents with you! Where is a pic of the party people? The table looks beautiful. And I LOVE the pic of you and your mum together! 2 beautiful ladies. You can tell her I said so ok! February birthdays are for very special people! I know because I was a Feb baby. Born a day before my dad's BD. and 2 weeks before my mother's! and I had 3 older brothers so I was a real special surprise and welcomed! hehehe. I am going to be the big 60 in a week! YIKES! Glad to see you had a wonderful party!

  10. Wow - gorgeous table - and lovely pic of you and your mom!

  11. Meike, I have sent you an award. Check out my post for today, Feb. 2nd, Groundhog Day!

  12. Meike you look so pretty, and your mother is so youthful looking. I think its commendable that you don't show a picture of your dad is he doesn't want that.
    Very respectful. I'm so happy for all it was a memorable occasion, did you manage to finish your dessert?
    I saw primroses at the nursery today and almost got them but ended up with the sweetest bleeding heart plant.
    All the best

  13. Diane, strictly speaking, not all went 100% well at the restaurant (the cream was sour... but they replaced those desserts instantly), and one of Dad's friends made a speech that was a bit odd, but that didn't influence the overall feel of the day :-)

    Thank you, Jenny! My Mum is indeed a very nice lady.

    Kay, I've just seen your post with the award, and I am well chuffed! Thank you!!!

    Linda, sweet and funny as always, you are :-) My Dad's birthday is on 31.1., not in February, but that does not make him any less special :-D

    Thank you, Debbie, and thanks for popping in!

    Julie, thank you! Yes, my Mum looks younger than some of my old class mates (not kidding - I bumped into one of them at the restaurant that same evening, and I swear she has tons more wrinkles in her face than my Mum! That's what smoking does to your skin, ladies...). Did I manage to finish my dessert?! He he he you don't know me THAT well, Julie, if you ask that :-)
    Bleeding hearts are soooo pretty, aren't they!

  14. I do love happy posts. Your Mum looks absolutely lovely. Is it the fear of 'The Internet' that stops your Dad giving his permission? It's quite odd because although I (who am nearest to your Dad's age than most of your readers I suspect) think it is so lovely to see those who are dear to our Blogland friends. I've just had friends whom I met in Blogland for lunch and it is part of the merging of the two worlds which are just as real as each other.

  15. Give your very special Dad a really big hug from me please.


  16. How lucky you are Meike to have both your parents to share such a lovely day. My dad died when he was only 60, so mum lived on for over 20 years without him. Very sad as they were so close. You and your mum look very happy. Treasure these days - they are the best.

  17. Happy Birthday and many happy & healthy returns to your dad.

  18. Greetings Meike, from Southern California. I am coming over from Kay's blog where she gave both of us awards. This is my first visit, and I am so touched by the wonderful celebration you describe for your dad. Yes indeed, you are very blessed to have a close and loving family. I shall come and visit again...anybody who loves books, as all good librarians do, is a friend of mine!

  19. GB, I have now learnt from my Mum that my Dad has absolutely nothing against me showing his picture on here, so there will be one up soon. It is my sister who has strictly forbidden me to give out any personal information and photos of her. I honestly don't know what she fears; maybe she expects some nutter or other finding out who she is and where she lives (how would they do that by merely seeing a picture? and why would they want to do that?) and harrass her; I really have no idea!
    I've been posting my own pictures for years, and not ONCE has anyone made an unwelcome surprise visit here :-)

    Thank you, SP, I will do that next time I go over to my parents' for lunch.

    Maggie, I know I am very lucky indeed. Especially after having become a widow so early in my life I have come to appreciate the closeness of family even more.

    Thank you, Marco Pasha!

    Hello Sara, how nice of you to pop over from Kay's! I am glad you like what you've found here so far.

  20. Maybe your sister does not fear anything but just does not want her life spread out in public.

    1. And that is her right absolutely, therefore I respect her request.
      Jenny Woolf has commented on this topic, too; while she does show many great pictures on her blog from her travels in and outside England, she never shows herself. It is a personal decision and I do not have to understand everything :-)

  21. Hello Meike!

    It's been a while! I'm finally done with my thesis and all I have to do is to have my deliberation 11 days from now. (gasps!) I was surprised with your blog's new layout btw. :) Also, Happy Happy birthday to your dad... (the ice cream looks yummy @_@)

    1. Hello Denise, it has indeed been a while! Thank you :-)

  22. Congratulations to your dear Father, Meike! What a lovely table that was with the primulas down the center. I love the yellow ones best because here in the US they seem to be the only fragrant ones. I love the photo of you with your mother. I see a lot of her in you. I am so glad she was willing to share the picture.

    And the dessert! Oh, my! Germans do ice cream so very very well! I have a special memory of eating pistachio ice cream outside in Munich....And a very fancy ice cream treat outside in Friedrichshafen. Delicious memories!

    1. Kristi, since yellow is my favourite colour, of course I took two of those :-) My mother and I are quite alike in some areas, but face-wise, the resemblance to my Dad is much bigger, as you'll see when I will show his picture soon.
      Are you sure the delicious ice cream you had in Germany waa sctually German? Most of the ice cream parlours here are Italian - they are the true masters of that art, I think! :-)

  23. Happy Birthday to your dad. I stopped by for a short visit and couldn't avoid telling you what a nice place you've created here :). Kisses. Unikorna.

  24. Feel a bit of an idiot now saying to you 'treasure these days' because you already know about tragedy. I'll try to appreciate my hubby even more now.

  25. Just adding my voice to those wishing your dad a happy birthday! And may he have hundreds more...

  26. Unikorna, hello and thanks for stopping by! I'll have a look at your place soon.

    Maggie, you are right, and indeed I do treasure these days.

    Macy, I think your blog has dropped from my reading list again - glad you commented, so I can click straight through to your blog.