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Aussie twins Amy and Claire Jacobs spend the holidays with their La Salle basketball family

The twin starting guards experience the holidays a bit differently, but they're surrounded by the La Salle basketball family.

Identical twins from Australia, (left to right) Amy Jacobs (24) and Claire Jacobs (10) pose for a portrait after practice in the Tom Gola Arena at the TruMark Financial Center at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, January 9, 2020.
Identical twins from Australia, (left to right) Amy Jacobs (24) and Claire Jacobs (10) pose for a portrait after practice in the Tom Gola Arena at the TruMark Financial Center at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, January 9, 2020.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

Nobody knows better than Claire and Amy Jacobs just how different the holiday season in Australia is as opposed to Philadelphia.

At La Salle, most students have gone home for the Thanksgiving holiday. For the Jacobs twins, who are junior guards for the women’s basketball team, Thursday won’t really be anything special.

“We’ve never really heard of [Thanksgiving],” Claire laughed.

“Yeah, no, we don’t really celebrate it,” Amy agreed.

“From what I’ve heard about it, which isn’t a lot, the idea of it is cool,” Claire continued. “Because whenever we go to people’s houses, the way each family celebrates it is slightly different.”

“It just brings everyone back together, which is nice,” Amy said. “I like it!”

For the past two years, the Jacobses, along with the rest of the women’s basketball team, have gone to coach Mountain MacGillivray’s house for the holiday. This year won’t be any different, since winter break falls during basketball season. So the closest thing the 6-foot starting guards have to a family setting are their teammates and coaching staff. It’s especially hard for the sisters, who have little choice but to stay in and around La Salle during the school year.

“We’re here, we don’t go home until May,” Amy said.

The Perth natives both acknowledge that it’s difficult to not be around their biological family during the holiday season.

“We’re very family-oriented, so not getting to go home and do all these fun things and getting to celebrate holidays with them is really hard,” Amy said.

“Especially since everyone else goes home,” Claire added. “There’s not really anyone here besides us and our team and the men’s team. We see through social media [that] everyone’s home ... and with our family, because we have a big family, we see what they’re doing.”

Their freshman year was the hardest one, Claire said, “Because we didn’t know what to expect. We were still sort of new, but sort of not new, so we weren’t as comfortable as we are to go out and do things. We had bonds with our teammates, but we weren’t comfortable enough to not feel like we were imposing during the holidays.”

Their basketball family does make up for it, though, as Amy noted: “Our teammates do a really good job at making sure we’re never by ourselves, which is nice. ... They’re pretty much sisters at this point. We’re with them 24/7, so it just kind of makes sense. Our coaches kind of guide us, too, when we need things, so they’re like family figures, too.”

However, there is one thing that they can do for Christmas in Australia that just can’t be replicated in Philadelphia.

“It’s summer during Christmas [in Australia], so we really miss just going to the beach!” Amy lamented. “The snow kind of freaks us out.”

Nodding in agreement, Claire added, “I miss our big family breakfast. We have, like, 60 people come and we have pancakes.”

They lean on each other more during the holidays, and a slew of phone calls from family members, along with FaceTiming their relatives while they get presents sent to them, somewhat make up for not being there in person. And, for any Jacobs family member who might be wondering …

“I want some new clothes,” Amy said of her Christmas list. “And eyelashes, too!”

“She makes a big list every year,” Claire said. “I’m very difficult to buy gifts for. I just make people guess.”

While there’s no time in their schedule for a quick trip down to the Jersey Shore, and the breakfast at La Salle’s Blue & Gold Dining Hall most likely can’t live up to homemade pancakes, the Jacobs sisters still find a way to make memories and embark on new holiday experiences.

“I haven’t done it yet, but I want to go ice skating!” Claire said. “I don’t think we’d be allowed to because we’re in season, but someone was saying how there’s this really pretty place to go ice skating, and I want to go. I’ll just take no pictures and go.”

Amy countered with, “How are you going to go and not take pictures?”

“Well, what’s your favorite thing, huh?” Claire grinned, giving her twin that relentlessly teasing look that only sisters know. “What is it?”

Satisfied with Amy’s lack of a response, Claire triumphantly sat back and pronounced, “Exactly. So let me have my ice skating.”

It’s that kind of sisterly banter that shows how, even 11,600 miles away from the rest of the Jacobs clan, they still find spots to share their familial bonds at a time where being around family — whether you have the same DNA or simply wear the same team jerseys — truly is everything.