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Two Christmas Eves

Christina suggested I put this up tonight. Of course, it’s tomorrow already in Australia but I have only just now found time to sit down and type. It’s a story of hope that took place over two Midnight Masses, or Holy Communions at Christmas Eve. From The Imam’s Daughter by Hannah Shah which I reviewed in 2009

On Christmas Eve 2006 I was at St Bride’s Church in Farnham. It was midnight mass and I was one of those chosen to give a reading. The service was almost over when a young man turned around and started staring at me.  . .  When the service finished he hurried off to speak to a mutual friend of ours called jenny. I was glad that was over with. But unbeknown to me he was making further enquires!

‘Who is that beautiful girl?’ he demanded of Jenny.

‘Which beautiful girl?’ Jenny countered. ‘There’s quite a few here tonight, or hadn’t you noticed?’

‘That one’ he replied, the one who gave the reading. The one with the big brown eyes and gorgeous hair and ….’

Jenny and this strange man made their way over to me. She introduced him: his name was Tom.

Almost immediately Tom started gabbling on about this and that and an instant later he was asking for my phone number. I told Tom I wasn’t going to give him my number. I thought he was a bit forward just demanding to have it and so quickly. Apparently when he had seen me giving the reading Tom was mesmerised. He decided there and then that he just had to get to know me better whatever the cost. Little did he know what a tough nut I would be to crack.

I have to admit I was struck by what gorgeous blue eyes he had. He was ‘arty’ looking with a floral shirt and a goatee bread. Still, I didn’t believe that Tom had romantic interests. And even if he did, he didn’t half seem weird. Why did I always seem to attract the oddballs, I wondered.

Tom came round for tea.

He turned up at several of Hannah’s workshops and started to play the piano.

Tom played beautifully, like a wild and blazing angel. I was captivated. Okay maybe I need to give this guy a chance.

They started going out.

It wasn’t long after that that I started telling Tom some of what had happened to me as a child. I feared doing so for I feared that Tom would run. But if I didn’t tell him, and if I didn’t reveal all then I felt our relationship would be based on a lie. . . If after hearing it Tom would still risk ‘looking like a fool for love’ then he was the one for me.

Telling Tom everything was difficult but it was also cathartic and truly liberating. Tom is a gentle, caring soul with untold hidden strengths and a huge heart. Exactly one year after we met Tom proposed to me. It was Christmas Eve, 2007, and we were at midnight mass at ST Bride’s Church once again. He asked me if I would marry him.

I barely hesitated before saying ‘Yes! I will!’

The vicar announced the happy news of our engagement there and then and there was a spontaneous round of applause, and cheering. I had finally said yes to ‘Oddball Tom’. He finds it funny that that’s how I used to think of him. He tells a very different story of our getting together. The way he tells it he’s more like the knight in shining armour!

Maybe it’s possible for a person to be both. I think it is. I think he’s my knight in shining armour too.

The Imam's daughter by Hannah Shah Published March 2009 by Rider & Co. ISBN 978-1-8460-4147-1