Céline Dion is so strong.

The music sensation just spent her first Christmas without her late husband, René Angélil. And despite the absence of their father, Céline concealed her grief and put on a magical holiday for the couple’s three kids: René Charles, 15, and twins Eddy and Nelson, both 6.

In an exclusive new interview, a friend close to the star tells Closer Weekly that this year was a “transition Christmas.” However, the “My Heart Will Go On” singer did her best to keep up the family tradition by celebrating at the Yellowstone Club in Montana like they’ve done in the past. The four even took a private plane to the lodge!

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Céline and René in 2003.

“The ski trip has been an annual family event, but they didn’t go last year because René was so sick,” says the friend. Céline and her sons sadly lost René after a long battle with throat cancer at age 73 on Jan. 14, 2016.

MORE: Céline Dion Reveals How She Told Her Kids About Their Father René Angélil’s Death

On Christmas morning, she even made sure her boys had plenty of gifts under the tree. “[She] shared stories of René, drank hot chocolate and played games,” the friend tells Closer. “Céline said she felt René there watching over them.”

The singer has been very vocal about how much of a struggle 2016 was for her and her sons. “Before he [died], it was very, very difficult for all of us,” the 48-year-old revealed back in October 2016. “For me especially, and my children, to see the man of my life die a little bit more every day. And when he left, it was kind of a relief for me that the man that I love, the only man that I kissed, the only man that I loved.”

MORE: Céline Dion Honors Late Husband René Angélil With New Song

“Yeah. I never kissed another man in my life,” Céline revealed of her former music manager. “So the man of my life was my partner, and we were one. So when he stopped suffering I said to myself, he’s okay. And he deserves not to suffer.”

For more on Céline’s first Christmas without René, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!

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