How a song is written

The obituary of Donald Yetter Gardner tells how.

He wrote the song in 1947 while filling in for his wife as teacher of a grade-school class in Smithtown, N.Y., during the holiday season. He asked the class what they wanted for Christmas, and when they hissed and lisped their answers, he noticed that almost all of them had at least one front tooth missing.

Gardner then wrote All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth, a song that once drove my extended family bonkers at the annual Christmas tree cutting — long story involved a poorly drawn awl — but has gained popularity nonetheless.

The song has been recorded dozens of times by artists as diverse as Spike Jones, George Strait and Mariah Carey. Mr. Gardner’s favorite version was recorded by Nat King Cole.

Gardner died earlier this month at age 91.

In addition to reprinting the famous song’s lyrics, the Los Angeles Times noted that he was 31 years old when he wrote the song. His local paper, the Wellesley Townsman, noted his sons’ memories of him and how he once made a hole-in-one.

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