However many celebrities have a good holiday season, Mariah Carey appears destined for one of her best.
Not only are she and husband Nick Cannon ("America's Got Talent") celebrating their status as parents-to-be, but she's making the rounds to promote her second CD of seasonal tunes, "Merry Christmas II You." One of her stops -- a most appropriate one -- is NBC's 13th annual edition of "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" Tuesday, Nov. 30.
"I've never done this before, so I'm really looking forward to it," the friendly Carey says. "When I had my first Christmas record a while ago, I would have thought somebody would have tried to make that merger, but this is going to be fun for me. I do love all those kinds of very Christmas-y events and hopefully, it won't be too cold."
The lighting of the Christmas tree in New York's Rockefeller Center is a traditional highlight of the NBC special, which Al Roker and Natalie Morales of "Today" will host. Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Jessica Simpson, Annie Lennox, Kylie Minogue, Internet sensations Susan Boyle and Charice, Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, and young soprano Jackie Evancho (who competed on "America's Got Talent") also are on the musical bill.
Carey certainly has enough Christmas songs from which to choose for the show. "Merry Christmas II You" includes an "Extra Festive" version of "All I Want for Christmas Is You," her holiday standard that she also co-wrote. Also on the CD are "Here Comes Santa Claus," "The First Noel," a medley of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "The Little Drummer Boy," and several more songs Carey co-authored.
One of those -- "Oh Santa!" -- is what Carey expects to perform on "Christmas in Rockefeller Center." It's also slated to be the theme song of the new ABC Family movie "Christmas Cupid" Dec. 12.
Carey says the Rockefeller Center show's producers want the tune, "and it's already been No. 1 on the (Billboard magazine) holiday chart, which is amazing. It's pretty festive, but it depends. If they decide they want something slow, I'll do something slow."
The No. 2 slot on that Billboard chart also went to Carey, for "All I Want for Christmas Is You," as "Merry Christmas II You" was being released at the start of this month.
Included as well on the CD is "O Holy Night," which Carey recorded live with a choir in the South Central district of Los Angeles. "I actually did it a while ago," she says, "and I held onto it. I kept the idea of another Christmas album afloat by doing new stuff every year, and that song was done at a time when I was sort of in between labels. I decided I would do something different, so I did that version with a video and everything."
One of the producers of "Merry Christmas II You" is Randy Jackson, the one judge who's lasting into the new season of "American Idol" that begins in January on Fox. Carey maintains that he "absolutely" is still the Randy Jackson she always has known, even when he was more of a presence in recording studios than on television screens.
"That's one of the things that I think is so special about him as a person," Carey confirms of Jackson, who also has served as musical director for several of her concert tours. "He is exactly the same guy. People wouldn't believe it. I can't even believe it sometimes."
Expect Carey to make many more television appearances in the weeks before Christmas, a main one being her own ABC special Dec. 13. That hour will merge performance sequences, taped at Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre, with segments in which Carey will surprise several of her fans by making their holiday wishes come true literally.
"I've spoken with my mother about coming in and doing our version of 'O Come All Ye Faithful,' " Carey reveals of the ABC show. "We have never performed it live together, so I'm really excited about it. That'll be a nice moment."
Carey also believes there are many such moments on "Merry Christmas II You," which is why she's pleased to embark on a heavy media schedule for it, even while well along in her pregnancy.
"I just feel I'm in a different place in terms of being comfortable with my creative freedom," she says. "I love a lot of stuff from the first (Christmas) album, but every year, I will want to skip certain songs. I won't be happy unless I fast-forward through them, so I figured that if I did a new album that I felt good with all the way down, I could make my own playlist. This is like the sequel to a first movie."
And in Carey's view, there's no better time than Christmas for such a sequel: "No matter what else is happening in my life, everything else stops at that time, and it's time to do something really fun. However the rest of the year has been, I never let the holidays go by with me in a bleak, glum mood. I just won't do it."