One of my favorite holiday movies is “Home Alone.” In the 1990 comedy, the McCallister family is planning a trip to Paris for the holidays, but oversleeps on the morning of their departure, which causes havoc. In their rush leave, the family accidentally forgets their youngest child, 8-year-old Kevin, and leave him home alone.

Chances are, you’ve seen the movie and you probably know the antics that ensue as Kevin protects the family’s Chicago home from burglars.

But a scene I’ve always loved is the one of the large family rushing through the airport and barely making it on the plane. They get settled and after the plane takes off, the mother gasps “KEVIN!”

Now, I’ve never forgotten a child at home while on vacation, thank God. Vacations are stressful enough.

And while I’ve always loved the scene of the family rushing through the airport, trying to get to the gate on time, it’s recently occurred to me how simpler things must have been for airline passengers in a pre-9/11 world.

The McAllister family obviously wasn’t delayed by security. They didn’t have to take off their shoes and their jackets. They didn’t have to go through a full body scan machine. You don’t see Kevin’s family dragging carry-on size suitcases through the terminal in their rush for the gate. Today, the cost of checked luggage is so high, but back then then it was free.

And chances are, the parents didn’t have to worry about what food options there were in that terminal because in 1990 most flights still provided food other than pretzels. (Although, I suppose, a transcontinental flight to Europe still provides meals.)

Last month, my family of five flew to California for New Year’s. It was part family vacation - we took the kids to Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo. But it was a serious trip too, as we finally had a memorial service for our dad and spread some of his ashes at sea. We also finished emptying out the family home of the last 50 years.

We spent every second of that trip trying to make memories and enjoy the time with the kids, which meant the last day was rushed. Thirty minutes after our original “leave” time for the airport, I was still trying to cram everything into our carry-on size suitcases.

There were five of us, including our 10, 8 and 4-year-old kids. And there were six suitcases, five which were carry-on size (I’m not paying a fortune to check suitcases), three backpacks, a purse, my grandmother’s ashes in an urn and a Star Wars robot from Disneyland. We looked like a herd of bogged-down camels, rushing to get to the airport.

Despite leaving later than planned, we returned the rental car and got to the terminal in decent time. We exited the rental car shuttle, entered an elevator that took us to the ticketing section of Terminal 4 at LAX airport, and then headed for the American Airlines desk. When we got to the self-help kiosk to get our boarding passes, I stopped to count my children. There were two - but we have three children.

“Where’s Eliza?” I asked my two oldest kids, referring to their 4-year-old little sister. They shrugged. I asked my husband, in panic, “Where’s Eliza?” He looked at our kids, then looked down the terminal where we had just dragged all of our belongings.

I shouted. “ELIZA?!?” which reverberated against the terminal’s two-story ceilings. People turned around to look. I shouted again. My husband then dropped the bags and ran.

I told our older kids not to move and to stay with the bags, and then also ran down the ticketing hall, shouting Eliza’s name.

She wasn’t even in the building.

She was only gone a couple of minutes at most. A kind stranger saw my panicked husband and pointed him outside, where our scared pre-schooler stood on the sidewalk outside the airport next to the traffic. An airline attendant noticed our daughter all alone and was holding her hand. For that, I am so grateful.

Apparently, when we boarded the elevator as we first entered the airport, there were two doors, one that led inside the airport, and the other, which led back outside. As we exited the elevator toward the ticketing hall inside LAX, our daughter thought we were going back outside, and had walked through the wrong door.

Unlike “Home Alone” it was no comedy situation. It will probably be one of those moments I’ll tell my grandkids about one day, the time we lost a kid in LAX. Hopefully by then we’ll be able to laugh about it. For now, I’m still trying to calm my nerves.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.