So I promised myself this will be done before Christmas, so here you are. Unfortunately, the delay was part exams and part life getting in the way. I'm posting the finale (chapter 3) to this story on Christmas day. I might not be Santa, but that's my Christmas gift. Hope you enjoy it.

"I'm going to be fine if I go." I argue. Georg is trying in vain to convince me that I need to stay at the hotel. It's 5 days until Christmas, and the children want to see the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller. Truth be told, I was really excited to see it today too. But then I had a stomachache because the baby kicked me a little too hard and now Georg refuses to let me out of the hotel room.

"No point in letting you out if you're unwell. I don't want you to harm yourself or the baby." Georg insists. The children are busy putting on their things and don't bother with listening to our conversation as they chatter about the tree.

"Mother, don't worry. I'll stay with you, just in case, ok?" comments Liesl, coming from behind her father. I smile exhaustedly. Well, I do have to admit that as my due date approaches, my exhaustion increases. I hate to back down, but I don't know how I'll handle it if I start feeling woozy outside at the Rockefeller.

"Fine, but I don't like it." I reply, a little annoyed. Georg kisses my forehead and gently holds me as the children all rush out the door, with the exception of Liesl.

"Also, can you please talk to Liesl? She's been a little out of it lately." quietly murmurs Georg. I nod.

"I was going to do that later anyway. I think I can hold down the fort." I smile at him as he gently walks out the door. Liesl is in a bit of a mood today.

Liesl for the last half hour, on and off, was staring at the newspaper, rereading one and the same page. After we arrived in the States, Liesl read everything she could about the European situation. It hasn't been declared a war yet, but Georg is calling next year, 1939, the year that Europe is set ablaze. And I know that Rolfe, no matter what he believes in, will be sent right into battle against the rest of Europe, and maybe one day, the United States themselves. I know that scares her, and I'm not sure with all the chaos and trying to help with her siblings, that she's had time to reflect on what this means for her and for Rolfe. I know she really cared for that boy and what happened at the abbey affected her, so I think it might be time I ask her about it.

I sit down on the bed next to Liesl and she looks up at me.

"Liesl, you won't know tomorrow's news if you stare at today's paper for hours." I break the silence. Liesl's eyes flutter, and I can see so much more than just simple curiosity in them.

"I'm sorry. I just…" she replies, but she doesn't finish the sentence. I don't need to hear it to have a feeling about what she means

"Is it Rolfe?" I ask her, softly. She looks down, probably remembering what her first love was like. She had to watch the boy she cared about hold a gun on her father. I still feel so bad that I couldn't do anything to prevent it. I just hope that God will help her avoid further horrors like that in the future
"I can't stop thinking about how, just a few months ago, I was still seeing him in the gazebo and..." she quietly says. I can see her shaking. I get up and put down the sewing to sit beside her, holding her gently in a side hug. But what can I really say? I try to hum "My Favorite things" and stroke her hair gently. I can feel some tears fall onto my bulging belly.

"I know honey, I know. And you've been so strong. Just let yourself cry for now. I'm still very proud of you for how you are taking care of everything and trying to be helpful to your father and me." I reply as I finish humming the tune.

"But how can I care about people like that again? How do I know it won't end like this again?" she asks, "How can I go on if I feel so broken inside?"

"Because no matter what, you're you, and you'll handle anything. And boys will come and go, but if you know that you are enough, as you are, then no boy can ever rattle you like that." I smile. She just looks at the floor and gently starts to calm herself down with breath exercises. I know that Georg taught Liesl how to breathe when she's feeling scared from his time in the navy, but I haven't seen her actually use that trick. It's scary for all of us now. I know the younger ones are less scared with their childhood ignorance of the great wide world, but the older ones can sense me and Georg's nervousness at our status in America. It's a world away from what we've known, but I know that I will not back down, and we will handle this.

"Now, let's go bake some gingerbread cookies with the cooks in the cafeteria. Maybe they might let us use their pantry to bake." I tell her. She looks up at me and smiles.

"Okay, but I'll try to talk in English. Your accent is a little more harsh than mine." she comments. I feign an offended look and chuckle. She was right: for all of my attempts, I can still forget the occasional word or get confused with an English expression.

"Alright, Ms. English. Lead the way." I reply.

The cooks were more than happy to help us to the kitchen while they were on their break, provided we didn't make a mess. And we cleaned, so there was no problem with that. Most of the ladies were immigrants too, so they knew how home cooked food helps when adjusting to a new home.

"Don't forget to clean up the flour after you're done, luv!" one of the older matrons in the kitchen calls out from the dining room as we start putting the gingerbread in the oven.

"Thank you, miss!" Liesl calls back. I smile. The older matron was probably Helen, a petite lady with a background from England, but not that strong of a Cockney accent. She came to America as a child, and lost her accent pretty quickly as she adjusted to the New York accent.

We clean off the countertop and go into the empty dining room, save for Doris and Helen.

"So how's the gingerbread?" asks Doris.

"Not bad, it's just baking right now." I reply in my halting English.

"Your mum's getting better every day, now. She'll be at your level in no time." smiles Helen.

"Between taking care of all of us, she needs more time to practice." acknowledges Liesl as I smile.

"Well yeah, seven children and an eighth on the way? My mom woulda had a heart attack at taking care of everyone." Doris comments.

"Liesl's helping out as much as she can when I can't." I answer.

"You're a great girl, Liesl. Real proud of ya." Doris smiles, patting Liesl on the back. I can see her shake a little, and I know it's not because she's scared or worried for Rolfe. She's happy she's here, and she's safe.

"Tell you what. If you ever need any kind of help with the kids, you tell your mum I'm happy to step in and help. We're in rooms 114 and 115, me and Doris." she promises.

"Thank you so much." I reply, overjoyed. If all Americans are like this, I'm proud to be part of this country. I hear the timer in the kitchen ding.

"I'm sorry, I think the Lebkuchen is ready." I reply and then start trying to think of the translation as the two women look at me with confusion.

"She means the gingerbread." Liesl corrects me, and the ladies nod.

"Plates are in the cupboard, go take it to your room for the children." Doris offers. I nod and thank her and go into the cupboard for a white plate with a green trim as Liesl takes the oven mits and gingerly pours out the cookies onto the plate.

"Now let's go before your brothers and sisters get here." I smile. Liesl nods and we walk out the door.

The children and Georg walk back into the lobby just as we walk to the elevator with the cookies. Gretl grabs me in a hug after a running start and I nearly drop the plate of gingerbread cookies.

"Mother! We saw the biggest tree ever!" she cries out.

"I know, I've heard it's the biggest tree in America." I smile back.

"What's that smell?" asks Kurt, peering up at the plate in my hand as I move it away from him.

"Gingerbread cookies. Liesl helped make them." I reply, "But they're for after dinner. Don't spoil your appetite." Kurt groans in disappointment as Georg steps towards me.

"I thought I said bed rest." he comments. I smile proudly.

"And I needed to move. So I did." I reply. He sighs and takes the plate from my hand.

"You are a very stubborn lady, Mrs. von Trapp." he comments.

"And you love me for it." I answer him, confidence bursting out of me. He smiles and kisses me gently.

"Now if you're done making my hair turn white with your adventures, let's go upstairs and get ready for dinner in the cafeteria." he jokes and we walk upstairs.