A Special Christmas Gift

It was just two more days until Christmas, and Maria still had no idea what to get Georg. It was the first Christmas they'd be celebrating together, ever, and she wanted to make sure that her gift would be something very special, that only she could give him. They'd only been married a few months, and she felt extra pressure to make everything perfect, not just for her husband but for the entire family. Of course, the only person putting pressure on Maria for anything was Maria herself. She wanted to respect the traditions the von Trapps had before she became a part of the family, and at that same time wanted to add some of the things she'd loved about the season from when she was a girl, when she was happy, before her parents had died.

She'd run out of time to make anything, and had been feeling a bit extra tired lately so hadn't yet gotten all of her shopping done. When even Frau Schmidt's home brewed medicinal teas failed to help her, she'd decided to make a trip in to the doctor. Georg always worried so when she was feeling even the slightest bit ill, so she didn't mention her appointment to him. Maria suspected it was simply the extra work of running the household in addition to becoming a wife and mother to seven children.

As soon as the family sat for breakfast, the conversation went from a dull roar to full on boisterous. The children were extremely excited for what promised to be a wonderful holiday. Their new, openly loving relationship with the father, plus the new mother they loved so dearly, was better than any gifts they would find under the Christmas tree. Still, the little ones speculated about what gifts they hoped to receive, while the older children shared favorite memories of Christmases past. Friedrich spoke fondly of a sled he'd gotten one year; Brigitta loved reading the Bible passage of the birth of the Christ child most. Kurt was listing all of his favorite baked good aloud, while Louisa recalled a favorite nature book and bug collecting kit. Liesl loved most when the family would gather near the Christmas tree to sing carols, which she hoped they'd do this year with Maria. Gretl and Marta were both too young to remember any happy holidays when their mother had been living, but wished for new baby dolls.

Maria had brought new traditions into the house. The first Sunday in Advent she'd taken them all through the woods, collecting fresh evergreen boughs to fashion into a wreath. They added candles, and read Bible verses and sang hymns to mark the passage of time waiting for the birth of the Christ child. Each Sunday since, they'd lit another candle, and read the appropriate stories. Now, the only candle left unlit was the large white one, which represented the newborn baby Messiah.

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"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Maria looked intently at Dr. Krause, to make sure she'd heard correctly.

"I said, we'll have to wait to see if the rabbit dies to be absolutely sure, but all signs indicate that you are expecting a child, Maria," he said gently. "You seem surprised."

"I suppose I am, Doctor. We've only been married such a short time, I never expected this to happen so quickly."

"Well, my dear, it doesn't take very long sometimes. You're young and healthy, and your husband, well, he's fathered seven already, so there's no problem there." Dr. Krause chuckled, then smiled warmly. "There isn't anything for you to worry about, Maria. Your little bundle should arrive sometime in July."

Maria made another appointment for several weeks hence, so the doctor could check on her progress. She left the office with a promise to rest, and began walking through town.

Oh, my, a baby! I never imagined a year ago, that I would ever be having a baby! She counted back ward, and realized that this was indeed a honeymoon baby. How wonderful that Georg had had the foresight to leave town for the month before the wedding! It wouldn't end all the talk, she was sure, but it would be close enough for the worst gossip to not take root.

She still needed to finish shopping for a few things, and that included Georg's gift. Maria wandered anxiously among some shops, ultimately deciding on a new fountain pen for her husband. She also picked up a lipstick for Liesl, some pretty hair ribbons for Marta, and a bottle for Gretl's doll. It was only after she'd paid for the doll accessory that she had an idea. She left the toy store, eager to find a shop where she could find what she knew would be the perfect suprise for her husband.

The day before Christmas passed in a blur. While the household staff was busy with last minute preparations for the family's celebration, Maria busied herself making sure that seven children were washed, combed, and dressed before the Christmas Eve mass.

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Christmas morning dawned clear and crisp, with a newfallen snow making the world appear pure and clean. Maria and Georg awoke before the children, and enjoyed the quiet of the early morning nestled in each other's arms. After a few long, drowsy moments, small footstep were heard heading toward their room. The door burst open, with calls of "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" Their two youngest daughters bounded through the room and bounced up onto the bed to hug their parents.

"I suppose this means you'd like us to get up and out of bed, hmm?" Georg teased his girls. "You two run along and wake your brothers and sisters, and your Mother and I will be downstairs in a moment." He turned to his wife. "Are you ready, Baroness von Trapp? Our children are awaiting our arrival."

Maria was nearly as excited as the children, "Yes, sir, Captain. I've never been more ready for anything."

The children were thrilled with their gifts, but their favorite gift they'd received a few months earlier when they'd gotten their new mother. All seven of them vied for Maria's and Georg's attention on this special day, wanting to share their joy not only in the holiday but in their new circumstance as a full and loving family.

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The day passed as happily as any of them could imagine, and after a very full day of activity both inside and out, the children went to bed easily that night. Maria and Georg retired to the master suite, where they also feel into bed, and enjoyed their first time alone that day as fully as they were able.

As they lay in bed, limbs intertwined, Georg played with Maria's hair."So, my love, tell me, did you enjoy your first Christmas as a wife and mother?" He kissed her forehead several times, and ran his free hand down her side. Maria shivered at his touch. She snuggled closer, and breathed in his scent.

"Very much, darling. Oh, I do have one more gift for you to open," she said, as she sat up, reaching into the drawer of her night table. Maria handed Georg a small, square box, that was wrapped simply in white paper with a thin, silver ribbon.

"What is this? You already gave me a gift downstairs." He leaned up on his elbows and looked at her curiously, wondering what was in the little box.

"Open it." She watched him intently, her eyes glowing, and her cheeks held the ever-present blush Georg loved so much.

He carefully untied the ribbon, then removed the paper. When he took the top off the box, he looked momentarily puzzled, then he looked at Maria, who was now smiling broadly. Georg lifted out the two tiny, knitted booties. "Maria?"

Maria nodded. "I'm going to have a baby." Tears of happiness filled her eyes, and she bit her lip to try and keep them from falling.

Georg pulled his wife into his arms, embracing her with everything in him. "No, you are going to have our baby. Oh, my darling..." He pulled her closer, peppering her face with kisses.

"So, I take it you're happy?" She laughed and cried at the same time, as she tried to kiss him back.

"You can't even imagine," he whispered, as he tenderly placed his hand over her still-flat belly.

They lay back on the bed, spooning together, Maria wrapped in Georg's arms. As they drifted off to sleep, she felt him move his hand protectively back over the place where the proof of their love would bloom and grow.