Before I knew it, Christmas season was upon me, and as usual, Dad annoyed me. Whenever I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he would grin and burst into song: "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," 1946's favorite tune.
Dad was the worst person to give a present to. Whenever he wanted anything, he just went to the store and bought it instead of giving us a big hint and waiting. That's why he ended up with such a huge tie collection.
After I heard about those two front teeth a dozen times, I asked Mama to help me. She took me downtown to the dentist's office, and we talked the dentist out of two real front teeth. I wrapped them up in pretty paper and put them under the tree with Dad's name on it.
The sun wasn't even up when my sister Margery woke the folks. They came grumbling out of their bed, pulling on bathrobes. Dad went downstairs and flipped on the Christmas tree bulbs showering light all over the piles of presents on the floor.
Daddy's hair was all tousled, but he was grinning. "Now you each get to pick one present to unwrap while your mother turns on the coffeepot." Soon all of sat on the floor, pulling out presents and looking at name tags. I kept looking for the little package, green paper with pine cones on it, the package with the two front teeth in it, but I didn't see it for a long time. So small, it just slipped down between the other packages.
When I did find it, I grabbed it and gave it to Dad. "This one's for you."
I watched the perplexed look on his face when he saw the teeth. He whooped. Sang "All I Want for Christmas" and whooped again. Later, when we both were standing, he gave me a hug. I watched him put those teeth in his pocket with his silver dollar.
Thirty years later, standing in the mortuary after Dad died, Mama called, "Here. You might want these."
I turned. In the palm of her hand lay Dad's "two front teeth."
"He still had them?" I picked them up, marveled at them, and stuffed them in my pocket.
Mama nodded. "That's where he kept them, in his pocket with his favorite silver dollar."
Excerpts from THAT PUNK JIMMY HOFFA!