About this time of year, journalists start talking about TTMOC stories.
That’s reporterspeak for The True Meaning of Christmas. And, yes, it’s the trade’s cynical descriptive for those heartwarming tales of giving and loving and sharing that are served up like so much reheated bread pudding during holiday time.
They get me, those TTMOC tales. Mine arrived this year with a trip to Raintree Services on Eighth Street, just around the corner from my own house on Seventh. Close geographically, but not so much in other ways. Read more about the agency and its work here.
At Raintree, they’d love to have a few more foster families for Christmas. There are just so many kids, you see, who need stable homes. And someone to care.
At my house, the family may tip occasionally toward the dysfunctional, but the cross-generational love is solid. And understood.
At Raintree Services, they’re gratefully accepting whatever gifts come their way, although, like most kids, their clientele craves what their peers already have. MP3 players or cool shoes.
At my house, we’re shopping tech gadgets and laptops – things the Raintree kids generally don’t have. And all too often they suffer when a well-meaning teacher tells them to put their homework on a flash drive or get the assignments off the Internet. What Internet?
At Raintree Services, wrapping paper, tape and ribbon are always welcome, as they never seem to have quite enough to go around.
At my house, remnants of wrapping paper become curbside tossaways.
At Raintree House, a refuge for girls 10 to 17 who have nowhere else to go, Christmas involves a rare group outing to a movie, complete with popcorn and candy and soft drinks.
At my house, movie outings are spontaneous – and taken-for-granted — pleasures.
At Raintree House, Christmas Eve is spent delving into a big basket of DVD movies and snacks, donated by Friends of Raintree House. The girls stay up most of the night watching films and eating sugary foods.
At my house, on Christmas Eve we play a game (I’m not apologizing here) called Greed.
But the best thing about Christmas at Raintree House, according to executive director LaShawna Schofield, is not much different from Christmas anywhere.
“The kids get to be just kids for a day.”
If TTMOC matters to you – and it should – kick the cynicism and find a way to comply. I spent two hours at Target last week shopping for 8-year-old Noah, who loves Thomas the Train and Big Wheels and who needs socks and pajamas, as part of the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church’s white gift program.
My daughter trolled the Internet for Dr. Dre goods for a 12-year-old and Minnie Mouse paraphernalia for a 4-year-old, as part of her law firm’s annual Secret Santa roundup.
In addition to foster families and wrapping paper, Raintree Services has a wish list here of goods needed by kids and families it serves. Add something on it to your shopping list. Or drop off a few gift bags.
There’s also The Times-Picayune’s annual Doll and Toy Fund, Catholic Charities’ Christmas Dinner adoptions, or toy donations for patients at Children’s Hospital. About.com has a list of other ways to give local holiday help here.
TTMOC. Just a little FFT.*
Renee peck is editor of NolaVie.
*Food for Thought