The History Behind the Tune 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.'
"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. My two front teeth, see my two front teeth. Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth, then I could wish you "Merry Christmas!"
There is little chance that you have gone your whole life without hearing this tune played on the radio, during a concert, or even at a Christmas party. But do you know the history behind this recognizable childhood song?
It all started in the 1940s when a man by the name of Donald Gardner was a music teacher at the New York Avenue building. Gardner's wife Doris was also a teacher and recalls that one day he was working with a second grade class to prepare their song for the Christmas show. She said the children were laughing and Gardner noticed that over half the students were missing their two front teeth. Asking them to complete the sentence "All I Want For Christmas is..." he watched as the students began lisping wishes without the help of one or both front teeth. Their toothless smiles inspired him to write a holiday tune (composed in just 30 minutes) that one day would become quite famous.
The song was sung annually at the Smithtown Elementary holiday pageant but it took several years before it went into publication. It was first officially recorded by Spike Jones and His City Slickers in 1948. It has been covered through the decades by many artists including Danny Kaye, The Platters, Nat King Cole, and The Chipmunks. According to Gardner's wife, Nat King Cole's version was his favorite. This tune also inspired other lighthearted Christmas songs that have become staples of the holiday season, including "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." To this day, Smithtown Elementary School students are still performing the song at their annual holiday sing-a-long. For over 20 years, Principal Paul Graf has shared the story of its origins with those in attendance, and then brings up the kids who are missing their teeth to sing. In 2010, Gardner's great-granddaughter Sophia Burns was selected to sing the song with the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra at their Holiday Pops show in Massachusetts.
Gardner went on to become a music consultant and editor for Ginn & Co. music publishers where he composed songs for musical textbooks. During his career he wrote and published religious hymns, composed church music, and directed many choirs and choral groups. He is noted for his many musical accomplishments but none so famous as "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." He once stated, "I was amazed at the way that silly little song was picked up by the whole country."
In 2004, Donald Gardner passed away as a result of complications during surgery after falling in his Massachusetts home. He was 91 years old. Still, he will always be remembered by the people of Smithtown and all of us at Christmastime for his beloved tune!
Don't miss All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth playing here at GLT until December 15th!
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