The Real Housewives of New Jersey star tells PEOPLE exclusively that that her four daughters — Gia, 18, Gabriella, 15, Milania, 14, and Audriana, 10 — are planning to spend Christmas with their dad.
“They’ve never spent Christmas in Italy before,” says Teresa, 47. “So that’ll be nice and different. And there’s a lot of family there too, so it’d be nice.”
The reality star shared that her daughters also want to see Joe — who has been living in Italy as he awaits his final deportation ruling — for Thanksgiving in the Bahamas.
“But Joe is getting his passport. I think he’s going to get in 10 to 12 days,” she explains. “I don’t think it’s going to be in time.”
“They’re like, forget about Thanksgiving,” she added of her daughters. “So I think they want to go out to see him for Christmas.”
It is unclear if Teresa will also spend the holidays with her 49-year-old husband.
“It depends on my work schedule,” she says.
Last week, Teresa and the girls embarked on a two-and-a-half day trip to visit Joe. The trip will be documented by Bravo cameras for a RHONJ special.
“We just had the best time. It was really nice,” Teresa says. “And I’m happy I went. I needed that for myself also. It was good, you know?”
Teresa and Joe have been married for 20 years, though they have been living apart for nearly four. Joe began a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud in March 2016; Teresa served a little over 11 months in prison for the same crimes, and was released on Dec. 23, 2015. Joe was released from prison last year but was held in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania as he fought to appeal a judge’s deportation order. (Though he has lived in the United States since he was a child, he never obtained American citizenship.)
Due to the rough conditions inside the ICE facility, though, Joe requested to go to Italy to await his third and final deportation appeal. He flew to Europe in October. Teresa tells PEOPLE the family understands why he ultimately chose to leave the United States after seven trying months in ICE custody.
“At the end of the day, I just want Joe to be happy. I’m just happy that he was free. I mean, where he was, it was really torturous,” she says, adding, “”I mean, he did wait [to leave America] because that’s what his daughters wanted him to do, fight. And that’s I what I said to him, you can never regret it because you did fight, and now that was good that you were able to leave and still fight it from Italy. I was like, ‘You don’t want to be in there. It’s disgusting.’ Who would want to be in there?”
“So, I mean, he kept saying, ‘I wish I would have left earlier and I didn’t have to spend those seven months in there and then I could have saw the girls in the summertime.’ I’m like ‘Whatever.’ I mean because you always follow the lead of the lawyers, what they tell you to do,” she adds. “You can’t think about ‘I should have, could have,’ whatever. This is the way it was supposed to go. … His daughters could never say Daddy didn’t fight.”
And while Teresa admitted that she’s “not sure when” she will see Joe again, she noted that they text constantly. And thanks to her eldest daughter, the girls could travel to see their dad without her.
“It’s great because Gia is 18 so she could, if she goes, she could take her sisters at any time, which is great,” she said.
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Shortly before the Giudice family trip, Joe appeared in his first television interview since he went to prison in March 2016, chatting via satellite with Teresa in a Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen special.
During the interview, both Teresa and Joe told Cohen that they’re at a crossroads with their marriage and would not be making any decisions until they spent some time together in person.
“I’m waiting until I get there to see if I feel differently,” Teresa said. “I just feel like when you live apart. … He says the same thing, when he sees me, he may not want this either. We’ll know when we see each other.”
Although they both maintained that they still love each other, Teresa again said she would have no choice but to divorce Joe if he is indeed deported.
“I want to wake up with someone every single day,” Teresa said, explaining that her kids understood. “I think they get it. I don’t think they want to see it happen, obviously, but I think they understand. Because the way I explained it to them, how are we going to live apart? I don’t think he would be faithful. I think he would have someone there and have me here. I just don’t want to live that life.”