updated 11/30/2011 AT 2:30 PM ET
•originally published 12/01/2011 AT 6:00 PM ET
Santa arrived early for Kellie Pickler, who is looking forward to her first Christmas as Mrs. Kyle Jacobs – but says she already has the best gift imaginable: their almost 1-year-old marriage.
“Marriage is so special,” the country singer, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I never thought that I would get married, so I’m glad that I let that wall down. I’m glad that I let Kyle love me. He is the greatest blessing in my life.”
The couple – who secretly wed Jan. 1, 2011, on an island in the Caribbean – never wait to express their love only on special occasions, but write their feelings down in journals for each other.
“He’s been doing it since before we got engaged and [then] I started a journal for him,” says Pickler. “It’s one of those things you write in not for any special occasion but just because you love one another. It shouldn’t take holidays for you to act like you like each other and be nice to one another. You should be like that every day.”
On Thursday, Pickler plans to cuddle up in front of the TV with her hubby to watch CMA Country Christmas, which airs on ABC from 9-11 p.m. ET/8-10 p.m. CT.
The two-hour special, hosted by Jennifer Nettles, features interviews with country stars about their family holiday traditions, as well as performances of seasonal classics by Nettles, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, American Idol’s Scotty McCreary and Lauren Alaina, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Faith Hill and Pickler, who’ll channel ’60s country chart-topper Brenda Lee with her rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. ”
Reporting by Eileen Finan