While times change, there are still old family traditions we keep coming back to, no matter how modern or advanced our lifestyles may get. Young couple Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati is proof of this. Being part of a clan as big (both literally and figuratively) as the Gutierrezes, it’s to be expected that they have a strong sense of tradition. “We always spend Christmas with our family,” Richard says. “We make sure—” “—that everyone’s together on Christmas Eve.” Sarah finishes his sentence. They describe Christmas with the Gutierrezes with one word: grand. After opening presents, Sarah shares that the family would then partake in a feast—with everything home-cooked— and celebrate. The holiday also comes as a season of thanksgiving for everyone. One tradition they still observe is holding a raffle “for all the people who have been helping us throughout the year. It’s been like that since we were kids,” Richard says.
The gift of time
But as with any big group, managing schedules are always a challenge. And with a family as prominent as theirs, it can be extra difficult. “[Getting everyone together] is very hard during Christmas,” Richard affirms. Hard, yes, but doable: As easy as it is to lose track of things in the face of swamped schedules, he and Sarah always keep their priorities in mind. Sarah shares the family’s secret:
“Making sure we have time for the family is our number one priority; then work [comes] second.” Delegation is also a key. “Buying presents during the Christmas season can get hard, so we kind of split that obligation. ‘Who’s free on this day?’ ‘Can anyone do the shopping on this day?’” Richard says. “It’s a bit tough, but it’s doable. It’s part of the fun of Christmas.”
“It’s about time management — making sure our schedules are aligned, making sure we have time for the family is our number one priority, and then work is second.”
Gifts they’d love to have
Giving importance to their family’s tradition of spending time together during the holidays isn’t the only way Sarah and Richard show their love. Aside from their presence, the couple also tries to make sure that in the true spirit of Christmas, they give their loved ones presents they’d love. “We make sure that they’ll love the gift, or that they need it, that they’re going to use it, not just because it’s cute,” Sarah says. “It has to be something that they’re really going to use, [and would also be] obsessed with.” And knowing that opening presents by the tree is a big family tradition, Richard adds, “It’s a bit tricky, since our family’s getting larger and larger every year. What I tend to do is I ask them for a wish list. I make sure I get something from that list, [because] that’s going to make them happy when they open the gifts.”
Continuing the tradition
Keeping with their practice of giving presents that truly matter, Richard and Sarah share the best ones they’ve received from each other. “My favorite present from you is not just one thing,” Sarah tells Richard. “I think it’s all of our travels, because we make memories with them.” This goes hand in hand with Richard’s own favorite present from Sarah. Knowing his love for taking photos, Sarah had gifted him with a Leica M Monochrom Typ 246—the camera that he now uses regularly, especially during their travels together as a family. Just go on his Instagram feed and you’ll see the beautiful mix of dramatic shots and tender moments, rendered in black and white. And with their continuing tradition of putting their family first, holiday or not, there’s sure to be more moments, memories, and snapshots to be made and shared.