With the July temperature hanging around 100 degrees in Palm Springs, Dolly Parton sat down to write some Christmas songs.

"I have a friend with a place there," she recalled. "I went down with two girlfriends. We turned up the air conditioning, decorated a tree, pulled the shades and exchanged gifts."

With the mood set, she spent two days turning out the songs that will be part of her Christmas special with Kenny Rogers tonight, "A Christmas to Remember," as well as the show's companion record album. A re-creation of the scene in Palm Springs will be part of the show too.

It was a phone call from Rogers, suggesting that the pair who had teamed so well on the album "Islands in the Stream" might put on a good Christmas special, that swung Dolly into action.Specials and Christmas are both dear to her. "This is a very special kind of show," she said. "I've turned down specials before. I got a chance to write half the songs for the album. I wrote in July. We recorded in August.

"Christmas is always a big family celebration for me. I never miss it," she said. A typical Christmas has Parton and her husbnad, Carl, visiting her parents and his on Christmas Eve and Christmas day and spending Christmas night by themselves.

"And way back when I was a kid," she recalled, "we gave each other apples and oranges and peppermint candy when we didn't have gifts to give." CAPTION:

Picture, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers