Author's Note: This story is for the Christmas Challenge

A WARM AND WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS

By JeanneZ84

"Hey McCormick, is everything ready for the Christmas Party? Everyone will be coming soon." Hardcastle looked at Mark.

"Yes, Judge, I got all the chores done for today and I put up all the decorations, and Sarah said the food will be done in half an hour."

"Good. I just wanna remind you of one thing, McCormick."

Mark stepped back to check the placement of the ornament he'd just hung on the tree. "Yeah, what's that?"

"I trust you will be on your best behavior. None of your lip."

"You got it, Kemo Sabe, what ever you say." Mark nodded emphatically.

As the judge walked out of the room and McCormick sneaked back to the next room where he had hidden just one more Christmas decoration. He took it out and went in to put it up without Hardcastle knowing.

Soon after that there was a knock at the door. When Hardcastle went to answer the door he heard singing and when he opened the door with a warm sweet smile, he saw a group of Christmas carolers singing their hearts out.

After they were done singing, one lady handed him a big container of homemade cookies. He thanked them all and wished them a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and as Mark walked in the room he thanked them as well.

Milt also saw the mailman walking toward him. He waited for the mailman, who handed him a telegram.

The telegram said, "Milton,Your Aunt May and I can't be there this year. We have blizzard conditions here and all the airports are shut down. Love, Aunt Zora."

Mark walked in while he was reading it and asked, "What's that, Judge?"

"Oh, the Aunts are snowed in they won't be coming after all," replied Hardcastle unhappily.

"Ah, Judge, that's a shame. I was really looking forward to them being here."

"I know, McCormick. I'm gonna call 'em to make sure they're all right." He called them and talked with them a while and Aunt May said at the end of the conversation to wish Mark a Merry Christmas and to have him call them soon.

Milt said, "Yeah, I will Aunt May. I love you both. 'Bye now."

The next time they heard a knock at the door it was all their guests. They all seemed to arrive at the same time. The guests included Mattie Groves, Frank and Claudia Harper, and Barbara Johnson.

About a half hour later they all sat down to of one Sarah's best meals ever. They had ham, stuffing, green bean casserole and scalloped corn, mashed potatoes and, yes, sweet potatoes,and homemade rolls. For dessert pumpkin pie, and apple pie.

Milt said, "Sarah, that was a terrific meal as always, and the pie was just great."

After everyone had finished opening their gifts it was getting late. They all decided it was time to start for home so Milt and Mark saw them all out and wished them a very Merry Christmas and safe ride and trips home. Mark then excused himself and went in to the den to straighten things up; he was very deep in thought when he heard the judge come down the few steps it takes to get in the den.

"Hey, McCormick, I almost forgot that when I was on the phone with the Aunts they wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas from them, and they want you to call them later."

"Okay, Judge. I was gonna do that anyway," was Mark's reply.

As Hardcastle walked over to his desk, Mark got up from what he was doing and said, "Ah, Judge, I'll be right back. I just remembered I need to go see if Sarah needs any help in the kitchen."

Twenty minutes later, after helping Sarah in the kitchen, McCormick was heading back towards the den and he saw Hardcastle by the front door. Mark decided to take the opportunity to put the last decoration up somewhere else, then he headed back in the den.

After Hardcastle was done talking to a neighbor at the door that wanted to wish him, Sarah, and Mark a Merry Christmas, he headed back to the den. As he came down the last step, Mark went over to him and said, "Merry Christmas, Judge," and he put his arm around the judge and gave Hardcastle a quick peck on the cheek.

Milt shoved him away and yelled, "Aah! Quit that, McCormick! Are you nuts?!"

"Actually, no, Judge. Look," Mark pointed up to the ceiling and said laughing, "Look, Judge. We're under the mistletoe."

Merry Chistmas to all and Happy New Year From Milt & Mark.