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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, because it’s beginning to look a lot like Carrie Underwood’s Christmas special. The show, My Gift, will be on HBO Max on Thursday (Dec. 3).

Before the special — which she says she wanted to be beautiful, timeless and classic, and it sounds like mission accomplished — Underwood shared some of her stories and inspirations from behind the scenes. Here are some of the highlights from her interview with the Tennessean:

This is not your average holiday variety show. “We didn’t take a variety special approach to it. We just wanted it to be about the music. We had this incredible orchestra there, and my band, and they were able to create these beautiful scenes around me. Sometimes I (was) like, ‘I feel like I’m in a snow globe!’ It just felt so magical, and I think it all translated through the cameras and onto the screen. I’m really excited for people to get to see it.”

The show is more Jesus and less Santa Claus. “I want to sing what I know, I want to sing from my heart. And growing up in Oklahoma, growing up singing in church, we celebrate Jesus for Christmas. That’s what I know. I planned this album long before this year smacked us all in the face, and I’m so glad I did. I’m a faithful person and to get to sing these songs, it just put me in a place of joy and peace and hope. It was a blessing in a trying year.”

Her son Isaiah is his mother’s son. “It wasn’t a part of the original plan to put him in that song (“Little Drummer Boy”). But the more it started to come together, I could just see his little face when I sang it. He loves to sing. And he has such a great mind for lyrics, which is totally me. He remembers the entire song.”

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She will be singing “Hallelujah” with John Legend for the first time in person. “We got this song sent to us at the last minute, when we were almost wrapped up with the Christmas album. And I loved the song. It’s so beautifully written, and it covers a lot of ground in Christmas. There’s a lot about Christmas that makes it special. (The song has) this faith element. And then, of course, if John Legend sends you a song, you just ask if he might want to sing on it with you. He was in L.A., I was in Nashville, and we obviously would rather have been together to record it, but that’s just not the year we were dealing with. Actually, the special is the first time that we got to sing it together (in person).”

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