Christmas around my house has been known to get kind of crazy. Sometimes I can visualize my Christmases as a sitcom or a Chevy Chase movie.
Back in the time when my hair stuck straight up in a pony or laid on my shoulders in pigtails braided by my mother, we had huge family gatherings at Christmas. The house was adorned in beautiful decorations of mistletoe, lights, wreaths, etc. By the end of the night, a lot of the decorations had fallen or were knocked off.
There were two young ones who were my little sister and little cousin, then me, then my other three cousins who were all older.
On one particular Christmas gathering, my parents set us loose in the house and we took off upstairs, maybe chasing the cat around the chair a few times before heading up.
I loved aggravating animals.My cousin Mikey, older, got the bright idea to bash each other with light sabers.
This ended in his bloody nose.
Angie, older, and I played a couple hours of the old Super Mario Brothers (where blowing on the game or in the console actually made it work).
Then we ran around upstairs and downstairs playing hide-and-seek until one of us had trapped the cat in a laundry basket.
I think one of us also got rug burn on our knees thinking we could successfully slide across the wooden floor in the kitchen.
At dinner, I sat at the kid's table while all the adults got to seat themselves at the firm wooden benches.
For dessert, we had cake. As I dug through it, I saw green.
"Ooh I didn't know there was mint in this cake," I said.
Apparently, that was not mint. It was mold. Needless to say, we didn't have a dessert that night and I avoided mint-flavored things for a long while.
Eventually, Angie stopped being interested by videogames and after an unfortunate event, our families grew apart.
But this event made me realize just how important family really is, because the next minute they might not be there.
Last Christmas, a particular moment reminded me of a scene from a Chevy Chase movie.
It began in the living room of my grandparent's house. We were getting ready to go to Midnight Mass and my sister was choosing to stay home because she didn't feel well.
One thing led to another and mayhem arose.
My mom was trying to convince my sister to go with us while my dad was trying to calm my mom down.
My grandma was on the couch on the brink of tears and lecturing (to someone?) about whatever happened to a traditional Christmas.
My grandpa sat on the chair snoring.
The dog had a piece of tape stuck to his bottom and was doing an odd rubbing motion on the carpet.
Amongst all of this commotion, the dog started barking outside at the snowflakes, and we stopped and stared, and smiled.
I may only have one set of grandparents and my parents and sister to celebrate Christmas with, but it's not about how many family members you have, it's just about having family at this time of year.
And despite those large family gatherings as a kid, I still appreciate my family and all they do for me.
Sometimes I don't see it and sometimes I get caught up in my college state-of-mind, but a family comes together to support you when you really need them, and I am lucky to have them to spend Christmas with.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year.
Kayla Herrera's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.