12/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
Jerry O'Connell and his younger brother Charlie (Sliders) have always been close. "We're Irish twins, 14 months apart," says Jerry, 30. "We shared a room growing up. Then we shared an apartment in L.A. We finally decided enough is enough, and we're separating in baby steps. We recently moved into condos in West Hollywood—mine on top of his." At Christmas, boyhood memories come flooding back. "Our mom was still hiding gifts from Santa when we were teens," and "designing Christmas cards was a serious competition," Jerry recalls. "Once my brother drew a robotic Santa and I drew Santa bowling." The boys helped their dad buy a tree on Christmas Eve, and they'd drag it through the streets to their Manhattan apartment. The tree came down on Jan 1. "That was always a sad day," says Jerry. "For 51 weeks a year, our house smelled like our dog. But during that week with a tree, it smelled great."