Many of us have memories of a favorite Christmas present. While Brett Eldredge is no different, he admits that one of his favorite Yuletide memories concerns not a present he received, but rather one he gave as a child.
"I remember getting Garth Brooks' album -- I think it was The Hits -- for my dad for Christmas," he recalls to Billboard. "I was so excited about that. He was such a big fan, and there was no one bigger at that time. I remember buying it at my school's book sale." It seems that Eldredge loves to surprise his loved ones as opposed to being surprised. "I love giving gifts, especially gag gifts. I just love seeing the smile on people's faces. I'm not a very materialistic person. I might love a good guitar or something, but I lose almost everything I get. If I got the most fancy watch, I would probably lose it, so I'm better off not getting that. For me, I just love to give a gift, and put a smile on someone else's face. Those are the memories that are the most dear to my heart."
The singer hopes his fans will allow his new holiday album, Glow, to make new memories for them this year. "With everything I've ever recorded in my career, you have to believe it yourself before everyone else does.... I went and recorded this album in New York City. I've never had anything quite this magical."
He says he felt like he hit a nerve within himself on Glow, but wondered what the public would think. "I felt like it was something really special, but I wouldn't know for sure until it hit the fans. It came out Halloween week, and I wondered 'How is this going to work out?' It went bananas. We opened up at No. 2 [on Top Country Albums], and the reviews started to come in, and I had no idea it would blow up like this. It's become something special with other people, and that's what I want to do -- touch people with music. I'm so pumped that people are feeling that."
Needless to say, Glow will enjoy a revered spot on the stereo of Eldredge's family, adding to their yearly celebration of the Christmas holiday. "There's a lot of traditions within my family. We go to Christmas Eve services every year back in Paris, Illinois. It's the same church, and the same people. We sit in the same spot. It's the most perfect way to round out the year -- to be with the people that I love, and have known me since I was a dorky kid who loved music, just sitting around the Christmas tree. Then, I go over to my aunt's house, and I've got so many cousins I can barely count them. My aunts are such amazing cooks, and we eat, drink, open crazy presents and gag gifts, laugh and have fun. It's the best way to celebrate with family."
And just what are some of those delicacies that he'll find around the dining table?
"My mom makes chocolate brownies that are just incredible. She also makes a great chocolate cheesecake. My uncle makes Brandy Alexanders, which is ice cream with brandy, so we all just wait for these drinks. There's one blender, and we're all just waiting for the next one. There's not one bad thing. My aunt's corn casserole is amazing. It's endless," he says of the yearly spread.
There's another tradition that he was a part of starting in his family years ago. "My cousin and I would go over to the tree house in the backyard. When we were kids, we would put our handprints against the wall. Every year, we would climb up there. I'm 6'5 and we'll still put our hands up against the handprints and watch them get bigger through the years. They are a lot bigger than they were then, but that's always an awesome memory."
Speaking of awesome memories, Nov. 9 will stand in his memory as a night he'll never forget -- the evening he watched his beloved Chicago Cubs knock off Cleveland in game seven of the World Series. For Eldredge and his fellow natives from the Land of Lincoln, Cubs baseball is a lot more than just a sport. It's woven into the fabric of their lives.
"I grew up in a family where we were hardcore Cubs fans. My grandfather hardly ever missed a game, and it was passed down to my father and then to me and my brother. I literally have pictures of myself as a baby in a Cubs jersey, so to have it as part of a culture and a family, it's deeper than being a sport. It comes down to family roots and values, and the belief in something that people said would never happen. So this year, I got to take my dad and my brother to game seven and witness history being made. So it was a magical experience -- and then some."