Touch a Memory: Christmas Gifts from Choir


Laureen Swanson, one of our choir’s soprano soloists, gave me this bead and mirror-encrusted bell Christmas ornament when we were in high school. Laureen died of leukemia at just 21 years old, the first of our high school class to pass.

During the holidays, we open boxes and boxes of memories. Ornaments, special serving dishes, and the essentials for our seasonal rituals become touchstones, quite literally, for our recollections of the history we have shared with our family and friends.

Our Christmas touchstones are, most often, touching on our families and the joy we share with them. In the next few weeks, during Advent and through Epiphany, I’ll offer some of the many memories I am touching this season, my first Christmas without either parent or my husband.

The word “touchstone” itself can recall the “stones of remembrance” God told the people of Israel to place so they would never forget one or another of the many ways God cared for them in times of urgent need. Whenever they would walk past or touch these cairns, God’s people were to remember that in just this place, at a specific time, God had rescued them from peril and restored their hope.

One of my touchstones is a promise from Jesus: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). Before I was living as a follower of Jesus, my high school music teacher had introduced our choir to this wonderful setting of that promise by Everett Titcomb, “I Will Not Leave You Comfortless.” Enjoy this performance by the Concordia Chamber Choir of Athens, Georgia.

Concordia Choir

The Concordia Chamber Choir performs “I Will Not Leave You Comfortless” by Everett Titcomb.


About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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