"It's picture time!" Mom announced in that annoying fake-enthusiasm voice moms master to try to talk their kids into doing something they don't like. The Midway siblings were pretty unanimous in agreement that it didn't work.
It failed to rouse any eagerness this time, either. Radar wrinkled his nose. "Again? Can't we just use the pictures from last year?"
"Of course not!" Mom informed him indignantly. "Everyone we send the Christmas cards to will want to see how you've grown!"
"He hasn't grown," Nemesis pointed out.
"At least, no one will be able to see the difference," Radar added parenthetically. "No one looks at those cards anyway."
Mom ignored them. "Go get your picture clothes on. Look, the girls are already ready to go!"
Radar cocked his eyebrow at Quill and Squirrel. "Yeah, but it took them an hour to get ready."
"Then let's make it a race," Mom suggested, taking them on their competitive side. "What's your best--"
Radar and Nemesis hurled themselves down the stairs headlong before Mom could finish. "--time? Oh, never mind; at least they're--"
Multiple thuds and crashes cut her off yet again as Radar and Nemesis fought their way back up the stairs to come sprawling into the entryway. "DONE!" Radar yelled, a little out of breath and rubbing a red mark on his forehead where he'd clearly collided with something rather unyielding. Possibly Nemesis's head.
Mom gave them a disbelieving look. "You cannot possibly think that you're presentable."
Nemesis and Radar exchanged a wary look. "Why not? These are the clothes you picked out," Nemesis protested.
"Please tell me she didn't change her mind again," Radar muttered under his breath.
"Your hair is a mess!" Mom exclaimed.
Radar reflexively and futilely glanced up. "It's always a mess."
"And dirty," Nemesis snickered.
"You should talk," Radar shot back, laughing as well.
Quill sighed. "Guys, come on. You're making this last longer than it should."
"Joy to the world!" Squirrel warbled.
"Go comb your hair," Mom ordered.
Radar and Nemesis tore up the second flight of stairs to the upstairs bathroom (the downstairs bathroom, which was theirs, did not possess much in the way of combs). About five seconds later, they came flying down the stairs, almost taking out Quill and Squirrel. "Done!"
Mom sighed. "Back upstairs. I'll do it."
The boys groaned and raced each other back up the stairs. "It's a waste of time!" Radar yelled over his shoulder.
It took Mom about five minutes to get their hair wrestled into a state of partial submission, at which point she threw in the towel and declared it to be good enough. The family recongregated back in the entryway. Dad joined them as well.
"Are we going to take the picture on the stairs again?" Squirrel asked.
Quill grinned. "Oh! I know! In front of the fireplace!"
"We're going to take the picture on the bench in front of the campfire," Mom announced.
Silence for a second. Then Radar spoke up. "Uh, outside?"
"You do realize that we live in one of the coldest states in the US?" Radar inquired.
"And it's November," Squirrel added helpfully.
Nemesis joined in. "And it's, like, zero out."
"Our coats don't match!" Quill protested.
Her siblings stared at her incredulously. "Really? That's your concern? Not the fact that our kiesters are going to freeze off?" Radar demanded.
"Well, maybe that means you'll behave," Mom suggested, a little smugly. "You're not going to be wearing coats, just your nice sweaters."
There was a chorus of groans. Mom turned to her husband. "Dear, talk to them!"
"Kids, do what your mother says," Dad ordered absently, trying to figure out which coat he would be wearing (since Mom and Dad never joined us for the pictures, they could afford to bundle up for the Arctic-chilly weather they were facing).
"This makes me feel like singing!" Squirrel threatened.
"NO!" her brothers yelled and made a dash for the door.
Everyone assembled at the bench with a rapidity made possible by a -20 degree wind chill. Radar couldn't help laughing as his hair quickly succumbed to the elements. "Told you it was a waste of time!"
Squirrel plopped down on the bench. "This is COLD!"
Quill danced in place. "Let's hurry! Where do you want us?"
"Well, let's see--uh, dear, my camera isn't turning on." Mom beckoned Dad over.
Radar flipped the hood of his good sweatshirt up and turned to Nemesis. "Join me, and together we will rule the galaxy!" he intoned in his best Darth Vader voice.
Nemesis flipped his hood up and stuck his hands in his sleeves, monk-like. "I'm joining a monastery. They don't make you freeze outside for pictures!"
Radar stuck his hands in his armpits in an attempt to stave of frostbite. His hood fell off. "Fair point. I might join you. Quill, what are you doing?"
"Trying to stay warm!" Quill replied, in the middle of a rather complicated and convoluted jigging session.
"JOY TO THE WORLD!" Squirrel warbled, throwing her arms out for dramatic effect.
This was, of course, the exact moment Mom's camera decided to work. She snapped a picture to test it and convulsed with laughter at the ensuing image.
The kids stopped their dancing, impressions, and singing to crowd around the tiny screen on Mom's camera. One by one, they doubled over laughing.
"We should use that!" Radar gasped out.
Dad chuckled. "It definitely conveys how we normally are."
Quill dissented. No, I think we should take a normal picture."
"Better get lined up then," Dad suggested.
With a maximum of confusion and a minimum of time (and frostbite), they managed to get the Christmas picture taken. However, the first picture remained their favorite, and ended up on the front cover of a book Radar wrote and presented to his mother the following Christmas.
Joy to the world, indeed!