The Real Housewives of New Jersey star is preparing for Christmas, her favorite holiday without her husband

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December 23, 2016 08:20 AM

On Dec. 23, 2015, Teresa Giudice walked out of the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, a free woman after serving time for nearly a year on fraud charges.

One year later, the star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey “is thriving,” her attorney James J. Leonard Jr. tells PEOPLE.

“She is still so happy to be home and to be there for her girls,” adds a source close to Giudice.

Still, this is the first Christmas without her husband of 17 years, Joe, who this past March began serving a 41-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for fraud and tax evasion charges. (He and Teresa were found guilty in October 2014.)

“She misses Joe a lot,” says Leonard.

Especially during Christmastime – her favorite holiday. She has spent the last month decorating the house and shopping for gifts, says the source.

Portrait Artistry By Linda Marie

She and her four daughters (Gia, 15, Gabriella, 12, Milania, 10, and Audriana, 7) plan to spend Christmas Eve with her side of the family at her brother Joe and Melissa Gorga’s house, says the source.

“She and the girls will spend Christmas Day with Joe’s family like they usually do,” the source says.

Looking back, Teresa is glad that her life is getting back to normal.

“I think the last year was a whirlwind for Teresa,” says Leonard. “She left Danbury at 5 a.m. and was filming Real Housewives of New Jersey less than two hours later. Her book Turning The Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back came out in February and made The New York Times bestseller list and then Joe went away in March. So this has been a very eventful year full of highs and lows, but she is doing amazing.”

Portrait Artistry By Linda Marie

Just like when Teresa was serving time in prison, she and Joe keep in frequent touch, says the source.

“They talk by phone and email each other every day,” says the source. “He talks to the girls all the time, too.”

“She visits him every week, unless one of the girls has a soccer tournament or something and she can’t go.

Their daughters also visit him regularly, the source adds.

While his being away has been “tough” on Teresa and the girls, the source says, she and Joe are still focusing on each other: In October, he sent her flowers to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

She has kept busy “running the girls [her four daughters] to all their activities,” says the source.

“Her girls are her world,” says the source.

She is continuing to work toward her yoga certification, the source says. (Teresa picked up the practice in prison and fell in love with it.)

“She will be getting her certification in the next year,” says Leonard.

Yoga has also helped Teresa cope with the stress of Joe’s leaving, according to the source: “She loves yoga. It has been amazing for her this past year.”

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