TODAY | December 12, 2012
>>> bush hager got us to open up what we love most about this time of year. jenna, good morning again.
>> good morning, guys. this was a fun one. there's something about looking back at the magic of christmas as a kid that brings back that child-like smile to everyone's fac face.
>> when the holidays come up, what memories come to mind of growing up?
>> you know, it -- i smile when i think about it. my dad, for a while, worked as a bicycle salesman and vice president of bicycle company. and so christmas every year, i think he saw as kind of a dual-purpose holiday of giving his children presents and also doing a little marketing for the newest products that he was selling.
>> the reason i love christmas so much is because my dad loved christmas . he was actually born on christmas . and he just got a kick out of the holiday. and it was a time to splurge. even when times were a little bit tighter.
>> i had so many sort of different holiday memories because i was an air force brat and grew up all over the world. wherever we were, we assimilated different cultures and added to whatever we were doing.
>> a favorite holiday tradition involved my big family. my mother has two brothers and a sister. so that's four kids and then all their kids. and it was always just a big, loud house.
>> i remember when i was about 8 years old, i got the mumps right before christmas . and my dad actually moved -- we were living in brooklyn. moved the christmas tree from the living room to my bedroom. and we had christmas in my bedroom. i always remember thinking i've got a very special dad.
>> you definitely did.
>> when we were kids, we were the early birds. we used to wake up at 4:00 in the morning, my brother, sister and i, and literally sit and stare at the tree and the packages. my parents were very strict about you're not unwrapping one ear early. you're going to wait till we get up. it was a true test of our patience when we were kids.
>> we had very little monetarily when i was growing up. my dad worked three jobs, my mom sold eggs door to door . i always felt like we were rich. i felt like we had -- we had so much love. and anybody else in this world who understands what i'm talking abo about, you got love, you got people who love you and you have people to share life with, you're rich. so it was never about what was under the tree. it was about being around the tree together.
>> you had two young kids.
>> do you still get to witness the magic of christmas ?
>> definitely. my kids are 5 and 3. we still do christmas morning . they're still thrilled about santa .
>> christmas morning is huge. kids look forward to santa and, at night they're listening for his footsteps. and my son, last year, really was trying to stay up until past midnight . i was going, go to bed. he'll show up. don't worry. he'll be here. santa is coming.
>> you have a niece, two nieces now.
>> hannah and ella are the two. and ella is just newly adopted from ethiopia. i have to tell you, jenna, when she puts her head right here on my chest, i could just die. whenever someone takes a picture of all of us, we scream out the word hot dog . and then they take the picture. i look at every single picture, i crack up because i know that's what we're saying in our head.
>> we always find each other in christmas , we meet in arizona or this year we'll be in vermont. we always come together at christmas and i think partly because we want to be together but partly it's how we remember my dad. because it was just a big day to him as well.
>> i'm grateful i still have children that actually want to spend time with me and want to talk to me about what's going on in their life. that's the greatest blessing i've ever known in my life, is my relationship with my children, outside of my relationship with god because i think teaching them from day one that he is paramount in their lives is the greatest gift i've ever given my children and the greatest gift my parents ever gave me.
>> we see that image of christmas . there's a family opening presents by a tree and there's a fireplace, fire going. and i've been able to achieve that. and it's not lost on me that it's a real blessing.
>> i think my kids will look at me one day and go, oh, dad. but i do get sentimental. for me it's a time to reflect on just how lucky and fortunate we are that we've got family and health and nice friends around us.
>> who were those people?
>> you guys were so honest and so sweet.
>> yeah, savannah and i were saying a lot of us talk about our dads and a number of us lost our fathers and even our moms. you don't realize it until it's gone. you just want to hold on to it as much as you can.
>> you all said family when we asked what was the most important part of the holiday. nobody said gifts, which was good.
>> no, but she did say her favorite holiday song was written by " flo rida ."
>> they're trying to teach me. flo rida .
>> by the way, you said it was all about family and gifts. let's combine the two. this is for you since you made your big announcement here.
>> oh, that's really cute. whoever thought my baby would wear an nbc suit ?
>> the real surprise is that goes in utero.
>> we're going to teach values early. thank you so much. that was very fun.
>>> just ahead, the cast of "daunting abby."