Just over 25 years ago, our first son arrived three weeks early, on his Daddy's 29th birthday. It was a great surprise to me - everyone had told me that first babies were 'always' late, and I had only quit work a few days earlier. We had lots of plans for my last three weeks of pregnancy, such as tidying and decorating the room we had allocated for our firstborn.
Little did I know that Richard, who was rather anxious about the idea of being a father, had been talking to God and said that, while he knew it was a very minor issue in the scheme of things, he would love it if his baby could arrive on his birthday... and since he had already thought about it (though never expecting that it would actually happen) he mentioned, as we held our tiny and awesome new son, that Daniel's 21st birthday would coincide with his 50th..
For many years they enjoyed a joint celebration. So much so that Daniel felt quite sorry for Tim, who did not share his birthday with anyone in the close family. But time passes, all too rapidly, and when Daniel was 20 he had left home and joined the MV Doulos. We knew that he would not be able to leave to join us in Cyprus for his 21st birthday the following year, but we had just sold our house in the UK and bought in Cyprus, and had a fair amount of money left over, which enabled us (among other things) to have a wonderful holiday in Hong Kong and Kota Kinabalu, where Richard and Daniel celebrated this special birthday together.
In the intervening years they have not been together, but since we were coming to the UK for Tim's graduation late October, Richard thought it would be good to come and visit Daniel and his bride Becky, and celebrate their birthday together once again.
I already posted about the bookcase we bought for Daniel as a gift. It would have been rather difficult to wrap up, and he chose it himself anyway. He actually chose a few other small items when we were shopping in Carlisle on the Saturday, which I did wrap up... and the same for Richard, who is very difficult to find presents for.
A few cards and gifts had also arrived in the post, and of course Becky had bought some, so there was quite a pile of presents awaiting the two birthday people in the morning:
Of course, birthdays cease to be particularly exciting as one gets older, so neither of them was particularly eager to start unwrapping. Richard seems to be checking something on his phone in this picture:
But eventually they did unwrap everything, and were pleased with what they found. We had a leisurely morning, and then took Daniel and Becky out to lunch at a Toby carvery restaurant which they liked. I had a supposedly 'Mediterranean' veggie lasagne, which was perhaps the most delicious one I had ever tasted. As well as unlimited vegetables of various types. Richard was the only one who had meat from the carvery; Daniel (who had a nut roast) looks a little surprised at the amount of food on his plate in this:
Next door to the Toby was a large supermarket, open even on Sunday afternoons. We had decided to make a chocolate cake, so needed a few extra ingredients. And since Dan and Becky only had one large cake tin (for cheesecakes and similar) we also popped by Matalan - also open - and bought a couple of smaller sandwich tins. In Cyprus most shops are closed on Sundays still, which I think is a good thing in principle... but since people are working anyway, I don't have a moral problem with using the facilities if they're open.
I made the cake and Becky decorated it with jam and Bournville chocolate, although I completely forgot about taking a photograph. They had invited their closest friends over for cake mid-afternoon, so we enjoyed a piece each, and then had a birthday game of Settlers:
We had all planned to go to the evening service at 6.30; the church is about two minutes' walk from where Daniel and Becky live, but it meant that we didn't quite manage to finish the game. We decided after the service that we didn't really want to continue - so three of us were the joint winners. Very democratic.