Jennifer Hudson has plenty of reasons to celebrate this holiday season after another banner year for the singer-actress. After Hudson's mother, brother and nephew were tragically murdered in October 2008, she made a triumphant return to the spotlight in 2009. This past year, Hudson added Grammy winner to her resume, performed at the Super Bowl and toured the country for the first time. On top of her professional accomplishments, Hudson and fiancé David Otunga welcomed their first child, David Daniel Otunga Jr., in August. As the Oscar winner prepares for her first Christmas as a mother, Hudson, 28, will also star in her first ever Christmas special — Jennifer Hudson: I'll Be Home for Christmas — Monday at 8/7c on ABC. The self-proclaimed "Christmas fanatic" talked with TVGuide.com about returning to her hometown of Chicago, one of her favorite holiday traditions and how she plans to top herself in 2010.
See videos of Jennifer Hudson
TVGuide.com: Why did you want to do a Christmas special?
Jennifer Hudson: I am kind of a Christmas fanatic so when my management came and approached me with the idea of having a Christmas special, I didn't think it would happen, but I was like, "Oh my God, this would be such a dream come true if it did." And I hopped on board right away.
TVGuide.com: How did you go about picking which songs to perform? Will your set feature more traditional renditions or more modern fare?
Hudson: It's a bit of both but there are just so many Christmas songs. I remember trying to pick them, I looked online and typed in 'Christmas songs' and over thousands and thousands popped up. Each one of them was my favorite one. I was like, "Oh my God, how am I going to pick?" I love tradition so it was easy to do because there were so many songs and such a range. I was able to pick very old traditional songs like "Oh Holy Night" and "Silent Night," which to me are the entity of Christmas. I just went and picked my very favorites.
TVGuide.com: You'll also perform with Michael Bublé on the special. How did he get involved?
Hudson: First I was wondering who could I get to sing with me? If I could have a guest to take home with me for the holidays, who I would choose? At the end, I ended up saying, "I feel like I need someone with a classic touch for the holidays," and who better than Michael Bublé? I think his sound is classic. Christmas should always remind you of the Christmas before and the Christmases when you were a kid. When you hear a voice like his, it just feels like the holidays so I think he brings the perfect touch.
See photos of Jennifer Hudson
TVGuide.com: Can you talk about the people and places that will be featured on the special?
Hudson: That was easier because the places I selected were the places I spent most of my time as a kid. I spent a majority of my time in my church and that's a huge part of my background. Not only is this a Christmas special but also [special] to try to get to know me as well, which I think makes it that much more interesting. So I was able to go back to my church and my high school, where I spent a lot of time, and both places had a lot to do with my music. I spent a lot of time singing in church, I spent a lot of time singing in high school, going around caroling with the choir. Another place we went to was the mall I went to as a kid. I always wanted to sing in that mall so I was able to fulfill that childhood dream.
TVGuide.com: Any other favorite moments or songs in particular?
Hudson: I have a lot of favorite moments. Going back to the church was one of the most emotional and touching moments for me because right before I went into shoot the song, I didn't know there was going to be an audience in the room until I got there ... I went in and the audience was filled with people from every part of my life. I don't know why it was so overwhelming for me but I couldn't even look at the crowd because I knew I would just start bawling and I wouldn't be able to sing anything. There were some people from my high school, my music teacher from high school, someone from church, all the way till someone from all the way till one of the films in Hollywood I filmed. There was someone in that room from each part of my life. This is what helped me become who I am today, is that I always had so much support behind me and clearly, I still do today. That was so emotional for me.
TVGuide.com: What do you think has made you into such a Christmas fanatic?
Hudson: I cannot name one bad Christmas I had growing up. Anytime people think of Christmas, the reason why you love it has to do with something from when you were a kid. For us, we always had the best Christmases growing up. It just became my favorite growing up from the weather to the music to the food to just sitting in the house. I'm a homebody anyway, so it's the perfect excuse to sit in the house and be with your family.
TVGuide.com Are there certain Christmas traditions you've held onto over the years?
Hudson: Now we're trying to create new traditions because now I have my own family. So it's tough because we haven't had our first Christmas yet. For me, I watch Home Alone every single year, that movie is like my favorite movie. People always laugh when I say that, but it is. So I hope to add my Christmas special for my family tradition for us to watch each year and hopefully, other families will as well.
TVGuide.com: 2009 was a big year for you personally and professionally. What are you looking forward to in 2010?
Hudson: I'm excited to see what this year has in store. I have my new album, and then also the next film and then I want to tour again this year, but internationally. That might take up the whole year but if not, then we'll see