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Mariah Carey at Beacon Theatre

Source: Jeff Kravitz / Getty

Christmas would not be the same without hearing the sounds of Mariah Carey belting out “All I Want For Christmas Is You” through the speakers of virtually every retail store you set foot in. Over the years, the singer has become a Christmas icon of sorts. And although she spreads joy to many with her over-the-top holiday cheer, there’s actually a much darker reason why Carey takes the holidays so seriously.

“After I kind of emerged from my first relationship-slash-marriage [to Tommy Mottola] I created the Christmases that I wanted to have,” she revealed in the cover story for Elle’s digital holiday edition. “A lot of very bad stuff happened to me when I was 12. But also, there is the spirit of that kid, that fighter who doesn’t give up, who does embrace who she is, even though the world didn’t understand that from my point of view.”

The 50-year-old mom of two shared that, as a child, the holidays were usually dysfunctional due to the actions of some of her relatives.

“I think it’s just that longing that I had as a child, that I always wanted things to be perfect for the holidays. And they never were,” Carey reflected. “It was always somebody ruining the moment, always these dysfunctional family members who came around and foiled everything. And so I just made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to allow that to happen anymore.”

These days, Christmas is much brighter for the singer

“I literally go to a snowy place. Reindeer are there — I’m not making this up. Santa Claus comes, hangs out with the kids,” she said of her annual Christmas. “And by the way, even if I didn’t have kids, I would be doing this.”

Carey’s Magical Christmas Special airs on Apple TV+ this Friday.

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