The wives celebrate the holidays with families, Jersey-style, as the Giudice's spend what they hope is not their last Christmas together as a family.
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It’s Christmastime in the Garden State, and (thanks to the premiere’s slight format change) our first gift of the season is new tag lines for all the housewives, aside from the twins, who share one. Without further ado:

“You never know how strong you are until it’s the only choice you have.” —Teresa G. (Wonder what she could be referring to?)

“I’ve learned to forgive and never regret.” –Melissa (Nice play on words/subtle dig)

“You’re not seeing double—you’re seeing trouble!” –Teresa and Nicole (Not seeing any reason to care just yet)

“I’m a survivor, no one is bringing me down.” –Amber (Is this also her audition for Elphaba in Wicked?)

“I’m back to bring the Zen. Namaste, bitches!” –Dina (Winner. Hands down.)

Besides spending time with family and loved ones, the holidays in New Jersey are also a time to remind yourself and others of all of the extravagance around. The Guidice’s continue to use the time together to reflect on what’s important. A couple of seasons ago, Teresa probably would have made a much bigger scene about the multiple ornaments that broke while decorating the family tree. But the new Teresa—the stronger Teresa—has more important priorities than holiday décor. With the right intentions, she is clearly struggling to find the right balance in her life as her solemn narrative of the season continues.

The Gorgas are also spending time together decorating, but their new rental home in Franklin Lakes isn’t quite big enough for the oversize trees, plants, and nutcrackers they are trying to fit in while their “dream home” is being built. What was wrong with the first dream home for the Gorgas you may ask? Well, nothing really—but remember Melissa wanted to move away from Teresa and her family so their children wouldn’t end up going to the same school together? That’s what she said at the reunion, but it looks like Melissa’s story has changed, and she claims they only moved to be closer to Joe’s work. She likely was just being dramatic last season, but it does seem that Melissa and Teresa’s relationship is in a comfortable place.

Over at Twin Christmas, we learn that Nicole has been living with her parents ever since she divorced… three years ago; that Twin Teresa’s eccentric husband Rino is teaching their 17-year-old son Giovanni the family restaurant business; that the twins’ father is very big on tradition however, not great on finishing stories; and the twins’ mother is named Santa.

NEXT: Kale and drama in the Garden State

Now, you really can’t blame Amber for being a little paranoid after surviving breast cancer as a young mother and going all out now, which means perfect Christmases, birthdays, and obviously St. Patrick’s Days. (You know how important St. Patrick’s Day is for Italian families.) But the holidays also provide the perfect time for—wait for it—fire drills! If you’ve ever wondered how to do a family holiday fire drill, try the Amber method: Taunt your children by telling them they accidentally killed the dog by shutting the door and let mommy and daddy slowly burn to death because they didn’t shout long enough. Merry Christmas!

Though Caroline and Jacqueline are off the show, Dina was still able to get a couple Manzos on screen while discussing Lexie’s future college plans. She hasn’t gotten in to her first choice (NYU) yet, but Dina is already having some anxiety about Lexie leaving because she knows their relationship isn’t a normal one. “Why don’t we throw a rock into the water to make us briefly feel better” Dina probably said to Lexie at some point. This must be part of that Zen thing that Dina is trying to bring back.

Nicole and Dina’s friendship starts to develop more over their common divorce tales and interest in the recent success of kale. Sorry Nicole, but those Orange County and Beverly Hills housewives have been talking about kale for years. Stick with wine and dessert—that seems to be the Jersey girls’ expertise.

The Gorgas make a visit to the site of their future LA-chic-style home (don’t worry, Melissa doesn’t know what that means either). Teresa and Dina are (conveniently) in the neighborhood and stop by to visit. Though the relationship is fine at this point, Dina is really the linchpin in the Teresa-Melissa bomb. She tries to keep an open mind with Melissa, but a Dina-Melissa friendship could actually throw a wrench into the mix and end up causing tension between the sister-in-laws. Namaste? More like déjà vu, bitches!

Like his brother-in-law was able to do last week, Joe Gorga opens up to Teresa and a real side of vulnerability is shown in the tough guy: “Anything you need I’m there for you.” After fighting for years, it’s nice to see the siblings in a moment like this together; raw, emotional, and honest. Joe doesn’t like going to traffic court, let alone jail, and can’t imagine what his sister is going through or even know the right questions to asks. And Teresa doesn’t know the answers to all of the questions anyway. When the entire Gorga/Guidice/Walkile clan get together for a holiday dinner (sans children), more talk of the legal trouble (which can’t really be talked about) occurs, including a brief moment between the two Joes checking in with each other. After punching out their problems last season, just a few quick words between them is still a much better way to communicate.

As Christmas day ends, Teresa and Joe put their four girls to sleep together in the same bed with their new pet (who is not named Fluffy). Surprisingly, the scene doesn’t involve bickering or tantrums, but a sweet goodnight message from a father to his children about the importance of family and always being there for one another, no matter what. When the couple retreat to the fireplace to exchange cards, Joe further contemplates his life if he were to have to go “on vacation” away from his family. For the second week running, the episode again ends on a gloomy tone. “This is not going to be our last Christmas together,” Teresa firmly tells Joe while holding back tears. This is not going to be the last conversation about it either.

Follow Jake Perlman on Twitter: @JDPerlman

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The Real Housewives of New Jersey
The Jersey housewives and extended clans keep the Garden State interesting.
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