Georg could hear Maria moaning and grunting through the wall between his office and the kitchen. He began to call her through the wall.
"Maria, Darling, are you alright?" Several seconds went by with no response, so Georg took it upon himself to see exactly what was going on. All seven children were lined up at the kitchen counter with Maria being at the head of the line fussing with the raw turkey. "What's going on?" Maria managed to smile despite her frustration with the bird.
"We're preparing Thanksgiving dinner, Darling. Care to help?" Georg, who was rather impressed with his wife's efforts, nodded.
"Of course! I want our first Thanksgiving to be perfect. What are we doing right now? That's an awfully large turkey!" The children and Maria laughed.
"Well, we do have nine mouths to feed, Georg!"
"Very true…," he agreed.
"Before we can stuff the turkey, we have to make the stuffing to go in it," she explained. "I thought it might be a nice tradition to let the children each pick their own unique ingredient to season the stuffing. For example, Liesl, didn't you choose rosemary?"
"Yes, I did!" Maria continued to name the children's spices.
"Friedrich chose thyme, Louisa chose basil, Kurt chose parsley, Brigitta chose a hint of pepper, Marta chose sage, and Gretl hasn't made up her mind yet." Georg let out a loud chuckle.
"That sounds very appetizing!" he praised. "I can't wait to try it."
"It has to cook for four hours first," Maria reminded them. "But while Gretl is making up her mind about what ingredient she wants to use, we can get started on carving the pumpkin for the pie." Maria picked up the knife, but Georg's hand stopped her from continuing. She could see he was holding back tears. "Are you alright, Sweetheart?" He nodded, but his lips were trembling.
"May I speak with you alone, Maria?" Concerned, she agreed.
"Of course." Georg led her by the hand out of the kitchen. "Follow the directions in the cook book for the pumpkin!" she called to the children. Finally, Georg and Maria were alone in their bedroom. As soon as Maria shut the door, Georg started to cry. Maria rushed to his side.
"Oh, Georg! Whatever is the matter? I thought you were pleased with our recipe."
"I am….but…there's something you should know, Maria…" She stroked his hair.
"What is it, Darling? You know you can tell me anything." He took a deep breath and sighed heavily.
"Margret was American," he began.
"Ah… your first wife?" Georg stood up and picked out a photograph from one of their many drawers.
"Yes… so we celebrated Thanksgiving when she was alive…" Maria smiled sweetly.
"Georg, it's perfectly alright to miss her. I understand. She was very beautiful." Maria began to massage her husband's shoulders, which were extremely tense.
"I miss her, yes, but I have you now. Still, some of the pain lingers around this holiday…" He turned to face his new wife and gazed deeply into her loving eyes before pulling her into a kiss. His hand ventured beneath her skirt and she let out a gasp. He looked at her with the most serious face she had ever seen him wear. "Maria, make love to me." He kissed her again tickling the back of her neck.
"Oh, Georg… yes…"
"I wonder that Mommy and Daddy are doing," said Marta. Liesl and Friedrich exchanged disgusted expressions.
"You don't want to know," Liesl answered. "Let's stay out here in the kitchen and work." She began mixing their ingredients into the stuffing bowl. "Where is Gretl?" she asked, searching around the kitchen. "She has to make up her mind so we can finish the turkey and surprise Mother." Kurt scratched his head.
"Last time I saw her she went out the door," he replied. Liesl's eyes nearly popped out of her head.
"OUT THE DOOR?!" she repeated. She rushed outside to their backyard and sighed in relief when she found Gretl sitting under the tree. "Gretl! Why did you leave the kitchen?" Gretl played with the object in her tiny hands.
"I needed to get my ingredient." She held it up to show her sister. Liesl let out a loud giggle.
"It's perfect! Come on, let's show the others."
LATER THAT EVENING….
Maria was very surprised that the children had stuffed the turkey themselves, and rather proud of them for carving the pumpkin as well. Together the Von Trapp family finished making their dinner, and they sat down to eat. As usual, Maria offered to say grace.
"Thank you, God, for blessing us with this new tradition and a new life here in America. We are truly thankful for all you have provided us with. Amen." Then came the moment they had all been waiting for- the turkey. Everyone agreed that Maria should carve it first, which she felt was an honor. She put the large, sharp knife into the turkey, and heard a loud CRACK! She jumped. "What on Earth was that?!" Georg shared her startled response.
"You didn't cut into a bone?" he suggested. Maria shook her head.
"There shouldn't be a bone where I cut!" The children were determined to stay quiet. However, Maria was growing more suspicious by the minute. "Let me cut some more…" She cut deeper than she originally had intended to dig out whatever was crunchy inside her turkey. She could hardly believe her eyes. "What the…. A PINECONE?!" The children finally let out their laughter. Georg suddenly realized the meaning behind it and chuckled too. Maria was dumbfounded. "Who stuffed a PINECONE up the turkey?!" Gretl raised her hand.
"It's my ingredient. I wanted us to remember our very first dinner together back in Austria." It was Maria's turn to cry.
"Oh, my darling daughter… She kissed Gretl on the forehead. "That's very sweet, thank you!"
"Now, the question is, is the turkey still edible?" Georg asked. Maria took another look at the large bird in front of her.
"Yes, I think so." She gave everyone a healthy helping, and they all agreed that this was the best dinner they ever had in all their lives. And of course, every year, they had a pinecone on the side.
THE END 3