Mariah Carey has been an open book in recent years, speaking candidly in interviews about her long, hit-filled career and connecting with her loyal fans via social media. Of course, she's been saving certain juicy details for an autobiographical book she's been teasing for an early 2020 release, but in general the 49-year-old, New York-born singer and songwriter has been happy to discuss her music and legacy in a deeper way.

In a recent chat with Variety, Carey spoke about one of her earliest challenges, growing up as a mixed-race female in world that wasn't often welcoming. It's part of the reason she was excited about writing and performing "In the Mix," the theme song to the new ABC series Mixed-ish, co-created by actress Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana Ross.

"When I was growing up, it was very much, 'You're one or the other. Which are you?' And it's very wrong to do that to a kid," Carey said. "In my situation, I've always felt so alienated. Even in 'Vision of Love,' it says, 'suffered from alienation.' That's my first song I ever put out. That means I felt like an outsider. I felt like people didn't get it and it was hard."

Carey famously persevered through those struggles to find unprecedented success. In Las Vegas, she's emerged at the front of a new group of headliners thanks to her three residency shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The Butterfly Returns is back on the Strip in February, a production where she takes control and performs her favorites and the songs her fans love the most while interacting with the audience in a more warm and informal way. It was Carey's creation after the success of her original No. 1 to Infinity Colosseum concerts, in which she reeled off all 18 of her iconic No. 1 hits.

At the moment, it's all about the holidays, the time when the "Queen of Christmas" returns. All I Want for Christmas is You is Carey's annual tour that touches down at Caesars Palace for five shows this month, a musical celebration that has included Christmas classics and several of her own holiday hits. Elaborate decorations and special events always turn the Las Vegas Strip into a winter wonderland, but it's not really Christmas in Vegas until Mariah hits the stage.

"It's really coming from the place of a kid, just loving Christmas so much. There's just no greater feeling or emotion than having that day," she explained to Variety in describing her own holiday spirit and the inspiration for that huge hit track. "Everybody asks me what the secret behind (my song is) and ... it's because I truly love Christmas. I might as well work in the North Pole. I legitimately have that much Christmas spirit."

It's easy to see, hear and feel that childlike joy when Carey performs "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and, of course, that 25-year-old hit she wrote and produced that seems to continue to define Christmas for so many people around the world. Just like Carey continues to define what constitutes a successful Strip residency.

Caesars Palace, 8 p.m. Nov. 22-23, 27 & 29-30, starting at $55 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster