A personal childhood story

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

Dedicated to:  Elizabeth Slifer

When I was around 9 years old, I almost lost my two front teeth.  So, the song, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” almost became my childhood theme song.  We were living in Nairobi at the time on a large compound with many other young missionaries – it was very communal.  We had our meals together and worked together.  My younger sister and I shared a room, which was, now that I think about it, a converted porch.  Our room served as a bedroom, with our steel, green bunk bed on one end, and a dining room, with a small dining table on the opposite end.  The walls of the room were draped in long, slightly sheer curtains to cover what were actually long windows.

It was Christmas Eve and I had a common problem.  I couldn’t sleep.  Actually, this problem was not just a problem on special holiday eves but most of the time.  My mom said I would regularly pop out of bed every time she put me to bed.  I was just so curious to know what was going on in the world around me while I had to sleep!  Well, I knew Santa was real but I couldn’t figure out why my parents were up so late whispering and wrapping presents in the next room.  Finally, they quietly tiptoed into my room and placed the presents on the dining table and crept out.  My sister was still clueless about Santa and presents at the time and she was fast asleep.  I think we’d had a party earlier that day with the missionaries and I had kept a balloon.  I was quietly playing with it, when I “accidentally” dropped it.  Of course, I was on the top bunk. So, I started to climb down to get the balloon, when my pajamas got caught on the railing and I went flying face down to the concrete floor. Ouch!  Oh my God! Did I die? Thankfully, a thin rug covered the floor.  However, that did little to brace my fall.  I don’t remember feeling pain anywhere else except my two front teeth!  Yikes! I was so proud of my two front teeth!  They had grown in so beautifully!  Everyone said so!  I guess I burst out crying and it was loud enough to bring in almost everyone in the compound.  My parents had heard the strange thud as I hit the floor and were already assessing the scene.  As I lay on the ground, with my face to the ground, the first thing my mom (or dad) did was scold me:  “What were you doing?  How could you be so careless?  Oh no!  What about your two front teeth?”  Then, Malaika, one of the Dutch ladies with short gleaming red hair, came running in with rolls of gauze.  But everyone was just standing there as I still lay on the floor crying and, now, I realized, bleeding from my nose!  I think it was funny and frightening at the same time, so people didn’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for me.

For several months after this incident, I couldn’t really eat.  I had to figure out an awkward way of chewing, avoiding my two front teeth, and I would spend hours using my tongue to push my two front teeth out, so that they would mold back correctly.  All the while, I would hope that I wouldn’t lose them because the alternative was too hideous – having false teeth instead of my two front teeth. My grandmother had false teeth – I wasn’t that old yet!  That’s when I first heard the song, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” and it would produce a lump in my throat whenever I heard it because it hit too close to home.

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