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Q&A: Souza dishes on holiday traditions

December 19, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- Steven Souza Jr. showed a lot of improvement in 2017. The power-hitting right fielder hit .239 with 30 home runs and 78 RBIs.Now Souza is preparing for the 2018 season, hoping to continue making strides. But first -- the holidays.Souza, who lives just outside Seattle in Everett,

ST. PETERSBURG -- Steven Souza Jr. showed a lot of improvement in 2017. The power-hitting right fielder hit .239 with 30 home runs and 78 RBIs.
Now Souza is preparing for the 2018 season, hoping to continue making strides. But first -- the holidays.
Souza, who lives just outside Seattle in Everett, Wash., with his wife, Mikaela, and 1-year-old son, Micah, took a moment to share his thoughts on the holidays in a Q&A with MLB.com.
MLB.com: Does the Souza family have any Christmas traditions?
Souza: We have the one present we open on Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, we'd wake up my parents super early. We'd open our gifts then we'd go to my Aunt Gena's.
MLB.com: Did Santa put the toys out, and then you had packages to unwrap?
Souza: Christmas Eve, there were a few packages under the tree. And then for some reason, Santa would come and there were a ton of gifts on Christmas morning. That was really cool.
MLB.com: So you had a big chimney?
Souza: That, and we left the back door open, too.
MLB.com: Micah, your son, was born right before Christmas last year, so this will be the first time he gets to really get after it, right?
Souza: Yes, so we're looking forward to that. That will be really special. Funny, he just had a party for his first birthday, and he got a ton of gifts, and I'm sitting there thinking, like, "This is going to be an interesting transition growing up, because his birthday is so close to Christmas." It's going to be a lot of fun to enjoy family and be able to celebrate with them.
MLB.com: What can you do with a 1-year-old at Christmas?
Souza: Well, he will rip something apart. So I think he's going to love that. I think he'll love ripping the gifts open and playing with the new toys. I don't think, necessarily, he's going to understand the magnitude of it. But I think he's going to really love just ripping open a present.
MLB.com: The ripping open part sounds like his father.
Souza: [Laughs.] I'll tell you what, more and more, he's showing a personality like mine.
MLB.com: Any special foods you enjoy at Christmas?
Souza: Yes. My Aunt Gena made prime rib with horseradish. Everybody would kind of make different things. My aunt would make an apple salad, my parents would bring a side, and then we'd have horseradish with it. And then my favorite thing my Aunt Gena did, she knew that I loved prawns, and she made this prawn, garlic and mushroom mix, and it was unbelievable. So we've had that every Christmas.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
Souza: "The Grinch" with Jim Carrey. I think my wife, my sister-in-law and I watched that four or five times. Pretty funny.
MLB.com: Any favorite Christmas songs?
Souza: "Mary Did You Know?" would be my favorite.
MLB.com: How about a memorable toy you got for Christmas?
Souza: I got an air hockey table one Christmas. That was awesome. My parents used to do this really cool thing. I'm going to do it for my kids. They would put all the gifts out, all wrapped up, and there would be one big gift that was left out. Sometimes they'd put it in a different room, and when my older sister, Shantelle, and I would walk in there, we'd freak out. Sometimes they'd have a little treasure hunt. We'd have to go find it. When I got older, they left it in the garage or whatever. And the air hockey table was left in the garage, and they said, "Go out in the garage," and there it was.
MLB.com: What is Christmas in the Seattle area like?
Souza: Christmas in Seattle is exactly how it should be -- not how Christmas in Florida is. It's cold. Sometimes it snows. We have fir trees up here, and they're still green. And the ones that aren't, the leaves are all gone. It's just beautiful. It's one of the things I love about Seattle. Every season is emphasized up here. It's a lot of fun."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.