LOS ANGELES – It isn't the smell of a Douglas fir or baking cookies that reminds Renee Zellweger (search) of Christmas; it's the smell of cigars. For Tom Hanks (search), it's the smell of banana bread. He says he always took the bus to visit his mom on Christmas, and if he was lucky, he'd sit next to an old lady who'd give him dessert.
Several celebrities this holiday season spoke about what makes their Christmas past and present special.
"My godfather smoked cigars, and anytime I smell a cigar, it brings Christmas Eve right here," Zellweger told reporters at a recent news conference.
The holiday means Christmas carols for many, but for Hugh Grant, the memory was less than perfect.
"Each family in turn would sing their carol, and then it would get to the Grant boys, me and my brother, and us singing 'Good King Wenceslas' way out of key," Grant told reporters recently. "It was so bad that the pianist had to stop. That, to me, is a starring Christmas memory."
Then there are Christmas gifts.
Angelina Jolie's present to her son, Maddox, wouldn't fit into his Christmas stocking.
"I ended up deciding that I would show him the world every Christmas, and so I took him to see the Pyramids on Christmas Day. And I've decided every Christmas I will take him somewhere else," she told reporters.
John Waters, enigmatic director of such films as "Hairspray" and "Cecil B. DeMented," dreams of a weird winter wonderland.
"My Christmas ornament I gave out last year had a dead roach in it, but it was fake. It was plastic," he told AP Radio in a recent interview. "I have weird Christmas bowls that people gave me. My mom gave me 'cereal killer' Christmas bowls. I have some odd things."
Despite his character's stalwart support of the holiday in his recent film "Christmas with the Kranks," Dan Aykroyd recently told reporters he is more of a procrastinator.
"I get really Grinchy right up until Christmas morning, when the fire's lit in the log cabin," he said. "Then I put on my cardigan and my sweater, and I put on the Frank Sinatra Christmas music, and yes, I get into it at the last second just like everybody else."
Joe Pantoliano, star of TV's "Dr. Vegas" and a cast member of "The Matrix," is quite the opposite.
"Christmas morning is always a drag for me. Leading up to the day, I love," he recently told AP Radio. "But Christmas morning, you have to open up the presents and it's just a mess."
For actress Nona Gaye ("The Polar Express," "The Matrix: Revolutions"), Christmas is forever linked with a compliment she heard when she was 7. She and her father, the late R&B legend Marvin Gaye, were outside their beachfront home in Belgium.
"It was snowing, so you couldn't see the sand. You could only see just this stark white over the ocean," she told reporters. "And I was standing outside with my father and he said, 'Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?' And I said, 'Yes, Daddy, it is.' And he said, 'It's almost the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.'"