The Merry Modern Family – a BENCH Christmas Card Special

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Photography by Joseph Pascual
Styling by Carla Villanueva
Makeup by Sari Campos
Hair by Kierlo Velasco


If you’ve seen enough holiday movies, you’ll know that there’s as much friction in family gatherings as there is festivity. Siblings will squabble, babies will cry, and there’ll be that one uncle delivering a drunken tirade before passing out in front of the television. No matter the tension, it’s togetherness that defines the holidays—the fact that despite your family’s imperfections, you’ve chosen to spend time with the people closest to you. Of course, nothing immortalizes this unique sense of comfort more than the Christmas family portrait.

            BENCH BLOG sought to capture different kinds of closeness, elevating the Christmas cards that families send out during the holidays. Each portrait taken encapsulates each family’s unique spirit. Whatever dramas a single gay father or a young family of five experiences on Christmas Eve, the family that stays in the frame, well, stays together.


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The Vargas Family

Bucky’s Brownies owners Migs & Raisa Vargas with Julian & Adriana

Hi, Raisa! Fill in the blank: It’ll be a __________ Christmas. 

It’ll be a spunky Christmas. 

Who brings what to the holiday table?

My dad gets on his Rhodes electric piano and plays some jazzy Christmas tunes. My brothers start the search around the house with my kids for Santa’s fallen presents. We grew up believing that Santa dropped our presents from the sky and they fell on odd places around the house (laughs).

Any unique family traditions?

With my extended family, we used to perform for our grandparents and get paid for it. Now that I’m older, the same applies to my daughter. We’re practicing for her violin number this year!

If money, space, or time were no object, what would you give your loved ones for Christmas?

For Migs, a really good espresso machine. For the kids: time, time, time—just my undivided attention. And for myself, a pair of good specs.


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The Rufinos 

Businessman Jon-Jon with twins Lucian & Lilith

Hi, Jon-Jon! Fill in the blank: It’ll be a _________ Christmas. 

It’ll be a Star Wars Christmas. 

Any unique family traditions? 

My partner and I are not religious so we bring in the humor about the commercialism of Christmas, and my kids bring in the their unbridled enthusiasm for objects they want Santa to get them. 

If money, space, or time were no object, what would you want for Christmas? 

I’m just happy with a home-cooked meal.  


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The Humphries Sisters 

Model Samantha and actress Carla

Hi, Sam! Fill in the blank: It’ll be a _________ Christmas. 

A food coma-filled Christmas (laughs). 

Who brings what to the holiday table? 

Papa says playfully to my mom, “This is really good. Super babe!” Which sends her into a spiral of happiness. We all have contradicting personalities, so there’s always going to be light Humphries banter. Alec is the serious peace maker and Madeleine (Carla) is the opinionated one but who’s always sweet and caring. Nick is the quiet one who tries to stay out of arguments and always jokes around to lighten the mood. Mom is light and always smiling, while Papa always worries and never forgets to ask if we’re happy. We all pretend that being together is stressful but at the end of the day, we’re all full, happy, and love each other.

Any unique family traditions? 

When I was younger, we’d play the old Alvin and the chipmunks Christmas cassette when the tree was put up. My eldest brother Alec would lift me up to put the star on the tree. We’d all laugh, be silly, and dance funny to the rock songs my dad would blast. And in the morning, we pretend like we hadn’t been up past 2am and scream “It’s Christmas !!!! It’s Christmas !!!” That wakes everyone up so we can open the presents.


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