"I don’t think there’s anything better, sorry, than when your kids are looking out the window looking for Santa," Hoda said. "'Was that him? Was that a shooting star? Was that Santa? I saw a red dot, is that Rudolph?' All those cool magical things — they remind you of just the wonder of being a kid."
"You've got to believe in miracles ," she added. "I think this holiday season reminds us of that."
Hoda adopted daughter Haley Joy in 2017, and Hope Catherine joined the family in 2019. She talked all about how the holidays have taken on new meaning for her as a mom in a new streaming special, “Holidays in My House,” on TODAY All Day.
They were too young to fully understand Christmas in past years, Hoda said. Now they do understand, and they’re so excited.
"Now, I mean, when they hear bells they go, 'Is that Santa!?'" Hoda said.
Seeing her children fall in love with the magic of the holidays has reminded Hoda to slow down, spend time with family and be grateful for the people in her life, she said.
"Sometimes we sprint past life. You go so fast that you kind of miss it," Hoda said. "This is a time for everyone to hit pause, everyone to gather; everyone to be together and everyone just to sort of, you know, just marvel at how lucky we are to have these incredible people in our lives."
The incredible 3-year-old and 5-year-old in Hoda's life have also changed what she looks forward to the most during the holidays, the TODAY co-anchor shared.
"I really look forward to Christmas Eve, because that’s when the anticipation is like fever pitch," Hoda explained. "All of that beautiful wonder is happening, so Christmas Eve is when my heart pounds."
Hoda is also recreating some of her own beloved childhood holiday traditions.
"My parents let us open one present on Christmas Eve, and it was hard to pick, man! There is something about that little surprise that happens the night before," Hoda said. "I try to do that with my girls ... I try to give the little gift on Christmas Eve and then have the big celebration Christmas Day."
Sharing the holiday magic goes both ways in the Kotb household. Hoda said the best gifts are "anything from my kids."
"I have so many of their notes and cards that I have collected over the holidays that I don’t have room for them," Hoda shared, adding that rejoicing over getting a "cool purse" is a thing of the past.
"I don’t even care about that stuff anymore. I don’t think I ever really did," she added. "I feel like my life is snapped into focus — like I finally get it. The best things are things that your kids have made with their own two hands and have handed to you. It’s like they’re giving you their heart on a piece of paper."
This year, Hoda hopes that everyone will remember to take a breath, slow down and fully enjoy the people they're with during the holiday season.
"What I write in my journal every day is: 'Dear god, thank you for this day, this day that will never be repeated this way again.' It reminds you that every single day is a once in the lifetime," she shared. "We have one ride around the sun, that’s all you get it — you don’t get another one, this is it. So when it think about my family, our time together, it’s remembering that we get to be here — we get to be together on this day."
"(So) ground yourself for a second, take a deep breath, look around and think to yourself: 'Wow, we’re all here in one place at one time and there are a lot of families who don’t get that," she added. "Just sort of savor, and linger and go slow. Take your time. Enjoy everybody being together for this period."
This article was originally published on TODAY.com