Celebrating Christmas is special for families all around the world, but the holiday season is extra sentimental for Donnie Wahlberg. The beloved New Kids on The Block singer recalled memories from his family celebrations growing up and gushed to Closer Weekly about waking up on Christmas day alongside his parents and eight siblings.

“I’ll always remember and I think anyone in my family, including Mark [Wahlberg], will tell you that Christmastime when we were kids was the best part,” the 50-year-old exclusively shared with Closer at the 10-year milestone of Target’s annual holiday Heroes & Helpers program in early December. “Whoever woke up first would immediately wake up the other siblings and we would all sit at the top of the stairs waiting to go downstairs to see what was under the tree.”

Donnie explained Christmas with his brother Mark, 48, and their older siblings, Debbie, Michelle, Arthur, Paul, Jim, Tracey and Robert, was constantly filled with joy and love. Their mom, Alma Wahlberg, and late father, Donald Wahlberg Sr., always did their best despite having little money.

“Christmas was tough sometimes because our Christmas list was never really fulfilled,” he shared. “We didn’t always get a lot of stuff, but that moment, the nine kids, literally sitting together on the steps waiting for our parents to come out and say, ‘OK, go down!'” he marveled. “It’s probably one of the greatest memories of my life.” Aww!

donnie wahlberg

While kicking off his Christmas festivities at the Heroes & Helpers program — which teams up police officers, firefighters and other public safety partners with over 15,000 underprivileged children across the U.S. to take them shopping for holiday gifts — on December 4, the Blue Bloods star praised his mom and dad for being the most incredible parents.

“I think, to go from there … I think it’s one of the reasons why our family tends to be charitable and love to do events like this,” he said of his philanthropy. “It’s because our parents didn’t have a lot and to get gifts for nine kids, on our budget back then, was near impossible.”

The Sixth Sense actor said his parents’ determination inspired him and his siblings to go above and beyond for their own family and others. “To see how hard they worked at the holidays to make something feasible happen on Christmas, including having just Christmas lights and putting a few presents under the tree — they worked so hard,” he raved. “For us, I think has much as we give back, it’s definitely influenced by that time. Our parents, were doing everything they could to bring smiles to our faces and we now try to do as much as we can to put smiles on other people’s faces.”

The “Please Don’t Go Girl” singer even credited his mom and dad for his relentless work ethic. “People say to me and Mark all the time, ‘You guys work 50 jobs and you do all this stuff, how do you do it?'” he said. “We just looked at our parents. My mom worked nights, my dad worked multiple jobs and when he got laid off from one job, he immediately went out and found another job to feed us and keep the roof over our heads. We’ll never forget our humble beginnings, that’s for sure.”

We hope Donnie and his family have a blessed holiday season!

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