Louraine Gomez said the family is putting off Christmas and vacations until her son comes home.
"We'll try to make it up to him when he gets out," she said.
Standing next to her was Grace Gomez, Mark's grandmother. "I'd just like to go around and hug the boys who don't have any family. I think they miss personal touches. It's really hard to go without someone hugging you for so long," she said.
Later, Mark Gomez, 20, sat at a table with his grandparents, his 9-year-old cousin and his mother. Silent Night played from a silver boom box nearby.
"Making this place all Christmasy makes it (being in jail) worse," he said.
Gomez had a mixed look of stress and frustration on his face as he talked about what brought him to jail.
"I'm pissed off because I'm in here. Why wouldn't I be (upset)? I made a mistake in life and I'll go through it (paying for it)."
Mark Gomez's crimes include drive-by shootings, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, assault and violation of his parole, he said. Being in jail has made him aware of many things, but soon he will get a new chance at life on the outside, he said.
After talking for a little while, Gomez cracked a smile below blue eyes. Then he went back to the company of his family.
Tim Oakes enjoyed the company of two of his teachers. Several people, including staff members, walked up to him patted him on the shoulder as they made small-talk.
But Oakes admitted that he felt "kind of scared. I'm not used to being around people from the outside."
He said he has several goals, including college, and several hobbies -- playing the guitar, writing and cooking. While at the facility, he has completed his G.E.D., is the editor of the jail's newspaper and is now taking culinary arts courses.
"He's a bright and talented young man," said Nancy Ziznewski, his language-arts teacher.
In three months, when Oakes leaves the facility, he said he is going to join his family in Las Vegas, Nev.
There are still issues he needs to deal with in his relationship with family, Oakes said, but three years in jail has made him stronger.
"He's processed through a lot of stuff since he came here," Ziznewski said. "He's a talented writer."
"I feel better about myself," he said, "I don't doubt myself.
"I'm not a religious person, but I think there's a higher power out there."