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Mariah Carey Opens Up About Her Difficult Childhood & How Christmas Helped Save Her Spirit

Thanks to her iconic holiday hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey is the unspoken queen of Christmas — and in her interview with Billboard magazine for its “Year in Music 2019” issue, the five-time Grammy award-winning singer admits she’s definitely what you’d call extra over the holidays. But what fans may not have realized is that Christmas wasn’t always filled with such joy for Carey. Rather, there’s a surprising history behind her now-unabashed love for this time of year.

We don’t know about you, but our holiday plans most certainly involve playing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on repeat whilst doing very merry things like baking cookies and wrapping presents. So, Billboard wanted to know: What does the woman who’ll be soundtracking everyone else’s holiday do to celebrate? “[I like] at least a week of Christmas music and Christmas movies and activities only. When we’re relaxing, no one’s allowed to listen to anything but Christmas music until Jan. 1,” she revealed.

But while Carey’s home may look like something straight out of a Hallmark movie these days, that wasn’t always the case. “I grew up looking forward to the holidays all year long, but because I have such a tragically dysfunctional family, certain family members or ex-family members would ruin it every year,” she shared, adding, “As an adult, what I’ve tried to do is take what I always wished Christmas would be and have the perfect holiday season.”

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Image: Ruven Afanador/Billboard. Ruven Afanador/Billboard.
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Image: Ruven Afanador/Billboard. Ruven Afanador/Billboard.

Granted, it wasn’t all bad when she was growing up. Carey credits her mom with kickstarting her Christmas spirit, saying, “She got me into it… She was super festive and tried really hard even though we had no money. She would wrap up fruit in newspaper and give it to me like, ‘This is from the cat!’ She would sing Christmas carols and make mulled wine and have her friends over. I got that from her, and whatever our differences are, I’m so thankful for that.”

So, it makes sense that Carey feels pretty pumped that “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — which recently celebrated 25 years — is resonating so much with people this year. “I definitely didn’t expect it to hit No. 1 two weeks before Christmas,” she admitted, gushing, “I just want to thank everybody. I want the world to have the best holiday ever.”

Billboard‘s “The Year in Music 2019” issue hits stands Saturday.

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