12/26/2014 11:24 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2015

Lessons Learned From a Not-so-Merry Christmas

When you think of Christmas, you think of joy. You think of glamorous décor -- bits of tinsel littering lawns and living rooms; trees bloated with shiny bulbs; strings of colorful lights draping porches and garages. You think of friendship, gift-giving, Bing Crosby, sugar cookies, Frosty. Happy, happy, happy.

But not all Christmases are wrapped perfectly in glossy silver paper with a white bow on top.

I can say I've had some pretty fabulous Christmases in my twenty years. Not solely because of the gifts or the food or even the cute little train set circling the tree (although all three have contributed significantly, I can't lie). Cheesy, but my family and I have always been close, and the warm sense of togetherness is what molded my perfect holidays.

So when my family and I fell into a fight on the morning of the 25th -- and I'm not referring to a few snide remarks or snappy comebacks, I'm talking an all-out screaming match -- I had a large dose of un-perfect reality. Hurtful words were spoken, tears flowed, angry thoughts raced, hasty decisions made. After storming out of the house, driving pretty far away and having my very first sans-clan Christmas, I learned a few things.

1. Humans mess up (especially during the holidays).

It's no secret that Christmas is kind of (read: mega) anxiety-inducing. The entire gift-giving process is its own brand of stress, but holiday parties or gatherings are a whole 'nother ball game. Mom might be freaking about the overcooked roasted ham or Dad could be sweating over facing an estranged relative. Take spiteful comments with a grain of salt.

2. The fight doesn't actually matter.

I may never forget what was said, but I most likely will forget the reason for it. Bear in mind the source of the feud is most likely really, really stupid -- it may even be worth dropping before all the shouting ensues. Shouting really is wretched, which brings me to...

3. Raising your voice doesn't get the point across.

I think I'd be perfectly OK if all humans decided to cease yelling forevermore. Because ironically, shouting simply doesn't result in better listening or greater attentiveness. People are more apt to take heed if spoken to peacefully and rationally.

4. Forgive during the toughest moments.

As stated, humans mess up -- it's essential to let the mistakes go in order to forgive and subsequently repair the broken pieces. "Sorry" may not take away the hurt completely, but it sure does mend quite a bit. Accept the apology and start moving on.

5. Don't miss Christmas.

No matter what was said or how puffy your eyes got, it's almost never worth missing Christmas. Because while our words may come out wrong sometimes, we still love each other infinitely. And that's what it's all about: loving unconditionally despite the flaws, the faults, the missteps, the blunders, the misunderstandings, the lapses in judgment. My Christmas may not have been the merriest, but it was the most insightful.