The stars join more of country music's biggest names to share holiday tunes and traditions
Credit: Katherine Bomboy/ABC

When Brad Paisley was a little boy, the best Christmas gifts he ever received included a tent that he pitched in his living room that “stayed up until New Year’s,” a Battlestar Galactica model kit and most special of all, a guitar his grandfather gave him when he was eight. “Nothing changed my life like that Christmas gift,” he says.

Those memories are just some of the holiday stories shared by the country stars appearing on CMA Country Christmas, a TV special airing Monday night (9:30 p.m. ET) on ABC.

Between performances from Kellie Pickler (“Santa Baby), LeAnn Rimes (“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”), Sheryl Crow and Brad Paisley (singing a duet of “Run, Run Rudolph”) and Darius Rucker (who will sing a new holiday tune), country music’s biggest names will share new and old family traditions:

• Martina McBride reveals a favorite Christmas dinner dish – a salad made with marshmallows, pimento cheese, pineapple and whipped topping. “It sounds disgusting, but it’s so good,” she says.

• Jennifer Nettles admits she was a little too curious as a little girl at Christmastime. “I would look for things,” the Sugarland singer says, “and in order to dissuade me, my mother told me if I came across Santa, he would throw pepper in my eyes.”

• Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus admits he can’t get enough of the pickles with cream cheese wrapped in ham that his sister always makes.

• And Paisley, who is a father to sons Huck, 3, and Jasper, 19 months, is now experiencing the joy of giving to kids at Christmas. “You can live vicariously,” he says. “I get to go to the toy store and not feel like a complete, total weirdo.”