The Wadhams: The True Meaning Of Christmas

Shutterstock / Creative_Vector © Nativity scene Illustration: Shutterstock

We’re delighted to bring you the continuing adventures of Life & The Wadhams, featuring the younger members of the family.

Not yet met the Wadhams? Read the background on My Weekly’s best-loved family, then come back and enjoy the next generation’s adventures as Mike and Polly Wadham’s elder grandson, Alex Clark settles into family life with wife Natalie, toddler son William and baby twins Lyra and Lottie. They’ve moved from their flat above Pretty Polly’s, the hairdressing and beauty salon which Natalie runs to live in a house with attached annexe for Natalie’s grandmother Julia.

Excitement was mounting in both Clark households in the countdown to Christmas. The littlest members of the two families were driving themselves into fever pitch – and their parents to distraction!

At No. 12, Linden Grove, three-year-old William was whizzing round the lounge at a rate of knots, pursued by his young mum Natalie as she tried in vain to make him stand still long enough to put on his outdoor clothes.

“William!” she said in exasperation. “You’re already late. Don’t you want to go to nursery today?”

William didn’t bother replying, just jumped from the couch he’d been climbing, nearly landing on his twin sisters who lay cooing on the rug near the sparkly Christmas tree. The tree shook dangerously.

Natalie held it together by a thread.

“Right, OK, so you don’t want to go to nursery. You can stay at home, and someone else can be Joseph in the Nativity play.”

That stopped William in his tracks. He was very proud of his role as Jesus’s daddy. Natalie took advantage of his momentary stillness to bundle him into his coat, then more or less carried him out to the car, where his dad was waiting patiently.

“Bye, William, I’ll see you later at the play.” She blew kisses to her husband and son and retreated thankfully back into the house.

Four days to Christmas. How were they all going to survive?

At No. 23,Elderslie Terrace, the mood was only slightly calmer. At five-years-old, Jim and Pinky’s youngest child Ruby could be every bit as wild and frenetic as her nephew William, and today she was fizzing with excitement at the thought of the day ahead.

“Come on, Mum,” she said. “I need to get to school. Hurry up and finish your toast.”

Her older brother, Matty, grinned at his sister.

“You’re not usually so keen.”

“I have to be early today.” Ruby stamped her foot. “It’s the play. Miss Cox wants us to practise it again before all the mums and dad come to see it, in case any of us forget our lines.” She looked as disdainful as a five-year-old could. “I know all mine. I’m the most ‘portant person in the play.”

“You’re Mary?” Matty looked puzzled. He’d seen his mum’s efforts at a home-made nativity costume, and it certainly wasn’t powder blue.

“I’m the innkeeper!” Ruby shrieked. “Without me, baby Jesus would have nowhere to be borned. That’s why I have to be early.”

“OK, OK.” Matty laughed. “Get your coat and I’ll walk you around, I’m free first period.”

“Thank you, darling,” Pinky gave her son a quick kiss. “That will let me help Grandma get Grandpa up and dressed. I’ll see you later at the play, Ruby,” she called as her two younger children departed, Matty rubbing toast crumbs from his cheek, and grinned. What a mature young man he was becoming.

Jonathan Wadham had spared no expense in the conversion of his sister and grandparents’ respective dwellings back into one large family home. With money no problem, he’d been able to get all the workmen that were needed, working overtime at triple rates, and now Mike and Polly were comfortably ensconced in the downstairs bedroom with its en-suite, and easy access to all the rooms on the ground floor.

Which, Pinky reflected, was a good thing, as her mother needed all her support in looking after her frail, gently-muddled husband.

But by mid-morning the couple were up, dressed and settled in the large front lounge, where Mike could watch the comings and goings on the street, and Polly could keep an eye on him as she pottered back and forth around the house.

“I’m off to the school now,” Pinky said cheerfully, once she’d checked they had everything they needed. “I need to get a front row seat as I know Ruby will be looking out for me the minute she comes on stage. If she thinks I’m not there and she has a paddy, she’s more likely to direct Mary and Joseph to The Premier Inn down the road rather than the stable!”

Polly laughed, but looked slightly wistful.

“I do wish I could come, too,” she said. “It doesn’t seem quite like Christmas without a children’s Nativity play.”

Pinky smiled sympathetically. “I know, Mum. I wish we could get Dad out and about, so you could both come. But it’s early days and he is getting more mobile around the house, at least.

“It’s a pity it’s William’s play today, too, or we could have asked Julia or Natalie round to sit with him. But with everyone at either play, and Jennifer working, it couldn’t be done.”

Polly nodded. “I know, and I don’t expect it. I’ve so much to be grateful for. Ignore me, Pinky – I’m just being silly and maudlin. There will be Nativity plays next year, and maybe your dad will be well enough to come by then.”

She settled back in her easy chair and waved Pinky off. “Now go, or you’ll be late.”

“Late.” Mike echoed. “Can’t keep the garage waiting.” He’d forgotten Pinky now worked part-time in a school, but she knew better than to contradict him.

He was happy in his own wee world, and she wouldn’t disturb his peace for anything.

Still dressed in his costume, which he’d refused to take off, William was stretched out on the couch, sound asleep, while little Lyra and Lottie napped in their cots upstairs when Natalie’s mobile rang. She dived to answer it, almost squealing with excitement when she saw the name that flashed up on the screen.

“Rob! Any news?”

“I’m taking her in now. She’s well into the first stage, she thinks, so it looks like we’ll have a Christmas baby! But here’s the thing – there’s no family around today to take Kayla, so we wondered if we could drop her off with you on the way to the labour ward.”

“Of course,” Natalie said. “Come right away, and give Keisha my love.” She put the phone down and hugged herself with glee. She couldn’t wait to meet her best friend’s new baby.

William stirred and Natalie inwardly groaned, suddenly realising that now she’d have to deal with two hyper-excited five-year-olds as well as two six-month-old babies. How was she going to keep them all entertained?

Her phone rang again, and this time it was her mother-in-law, Pinky.

“Natalie, are you busy? I’d like to come round with Ruby, if I may. She’s had an idea that might cheer up Grandma and Grandpa.”

It was Christmas Eve. In the large lounge at No. 23 Elderslie Terrace, the sparkling white and silver decorations had disappeared from the fireplace, to be replaced by a make-shift stable scene, complete with crib and a selection of stuffed toys to represent sheep, ox and donkey.

The family cats had scarpered, but Tyson the Jack Russell terrier stood guard to the side as Ruby Clark jumped up from her make-shift bed on the floor near the stable and crossed the room to open the lounge door door to the loud and enthusiastic knocking of three-year-old William.

“What do you want?” she asked importantly, as two small figures entered.

“My name’s Joseph, and this here is Mary – ” William pointed to Kayla, who looked very Madonna-like in her white and blue costume. Then he looked uncertainly round at his mum, who whispered, “She’s going to have a baby.”

“She’s going to have a baby,” Joseph repeated. “A boy, not a stupid girl like Lyra and Lottie. And me and him can play together when he gets bigger.”

“Girls aren’t stupid!” The innkeeper looked cross, then remembered her role. “I do have a room as it happens, but since you’re so rude you can sleep in the stable round the back.” She gestured at the fireplace.

“Thank you,” Mary said gratefully.

“And don’t be making a noise,” the innkeeper went on. “I’ve lots of guests and they don’t want to be woken by a screaming baby.”

“We won’t,” Mary promised.

The innkeeper went back to bed, and began to snore lightly.

There was no curtain, of course, but the audience of grown-ups pretended not to notice as Natalie slid a baby doll into the manger while the star, played by Matty’s friend Mandy, took up the story of how Mary and Joseph had travelled so far from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and now had a little boy, named Jesus.

Her two dads, Seb and Paul, squeezed each other’s hands in silent pride, not so much at her acting skills as at her kindness in agreeing to take part in what was essentially a toddler’s Nativity play, for the sake of Matty’s elderly grandparents.

There was another knock at the door. The innkeeper got up out of her bed, rubbed her eyes theatrically and stomped across, looking cross.

“What now?” she cried, opening the door.

Seb and Paul’s small son Jake stood there, a perfect little shepherd carrying his toy sheep.

“I’ve come to see Mary and Joseph,” said Jake.

The innkeeper rolled her eyes. “And that’s what you got me out of bed for! You could have looked yourself, you know. They’re just round the back.”

Jake looked ready to burst into tears at her angry tones, and Ruby dropped her frown. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’m only acting. You go on in and see them.”

Jake scuttled in, and Ruby went back to lie on her makeshift bed on the floor. Meanwhile, Natalie slipped from the room.

Another knock on the door had the innkeeper throwing back her covers again.

“I’m getting no sleep tonight!” she cried, opening the door to Natalie, a paper crown perched precariously on her head and a smiling baby in each arm, both similarly adorned in paper crowns.

The innkeeper looked them up and down.

“You’ve just woken me up, so don’t expect me to curtsey, your Majesties.” She rolled her eyes, and jabbed a thumb. “They’re round the back, in the stable. Honestly,” she grumbled as she settled herself back in bed. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about this Mary and Joseph.

She’d just closed her eyes when the little shepherd picked up a drum conveniently placed at the manger and started banging it enthusiastically.

“Right! That’s it! I’m chucking them out,” she declared, getting up once more and crossing over to the stable.

“Come and see our baby,” Mary lisped, holding up the doll.

The innkeeper took it from her, and gazed down at it.

“It’s baby Jesus.” she said in a tone of wonder “It’s God, come down to earth.” She held up the doll for the audience to admire, which most did through a misty eye.

Then another, obviously unexpected, knock at the door shocked her into dropping him on to the floor! There was pandemonium as Mary cried out in distress, the shepherd banged his drum and Joseph offered to punch his host for dropping his Son.

“Who on earth?” Natalie whispered to Pinky.

Then Ruby got herself back into character, marched to the door and flung it open.

A laughing face appeared around the door.

“Mummy!” Mary shouted, jumping up and running to hug Keisha, who entered the room followed by a beaming Rob carrying the tiniest of shawl-wrapped bundles.

“A real baby!” the innkeeper exclaimed.

“Oh, Keisha, you’ve brought him with you,” Natalie cried in delight, as Rob handed her his precious new son, born just a few days previously.

“I decided to come with Rob to pick Kayla up, and let you all see Theo.” Keisha beamed.

“He’s gorgeous,” Pinky exclaimed as Polly strained forward in her seat to see him.

“May I?” Natalie looked at Keisha for assent, then handed the baby into the elderly lady’s arms.

“Oh!” Polly exclaimed with as much wonder as Ruby had on meeting baby Jesus.

Oh, Mike, look at him. Isn’t he lovely?

Mike beamed.

“Baby Jesus,” he said quite distinctly, looking round the room. “It must be Christmas.”

“It is now, darling, it is now,” Polly replied.

The innkeeper stamped her feet.

“Is no-one going to clap? We were really good, you know.”

And as everyone clapped and cheered, she stopped frowning and smiled at last.

She was glad she’d thought of performing her play for Grandma Polly and Grandpa Mike. It was an extra good thing to do. Maybe Santa would bring her more presents…

Pick up a copy of My Weekly magazine every Tuesday for more entertaining, uplifting fiction. Available in newsagents and supermarkets, or subscribe and have your copy delivered.