Chips and Me – Friendship Defined Through Play

Last night, I receive a text and a photo from my cousin, Sheila. The text message congratulated me upon my new status as a grandfather. The photo was an ancient picture of me and my cousin, her brother, Chips. Looking at the photo brought back a lot of memories. Chips and I were the same age. I think we were around two years old in the picture. Thinking about Chips caused me to remember that so much of our time together was defined by play.

Chips mother, my aunt, Estelle, was the closest sibling to my father. When he was in divinity school and could not afford to return to Terre Haute for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, my father would hitch hike to Buffalo to stay with Estelle and her husband, Art. It was natural that when my brother, Emory and I were born, that we should spend a lot of time with our cousins in Buffalo: Chips, Michelle, Sheila and Michael. Eventually, Steve and Sarah were born on our end and they joined the parade of play.

All my memories of Chips are of us at play. We played in their backyard in Buffalo. We played jumping off a lower roof into their backyard. We played in the park alongside Niagara Falls. .I remember Chips visiting me and Emory in Detroit and climbing the pear trees in our front yard. I also remember Chips diving into a bushel basket of oranges under the pear trees and making himself sick. As we got older we saw less of each other. But every time we were together, there was a lot of laughter and playfulness. Chips died early, soon after I was married. I remember like it was yesterday, all the first cousins helped to carry his casket to the grave. It was the dead of an icy, snowy, winter at a cemetery in Buffalo. As we, the pallbearers slipped and slide with the casket up an incline to the final resting place, Emory, muttered under his breath while laughing all the time, “Chips, I don’t know if we loved you this much!” All the pallbearers started laughing and we almost dropped the casket!

As I think about Chips and the wonderful childhood memories, I think about the importance of play in the lives of children. There are no memories of substantive conversations. All I remember is playing hide and go seek, and any number of other games. Somehow, as children, we learn through play. We learn social interaction skills. We learn how to reason. Most of all, we learn how to feel good about ourselves through cheerful interaction with other children and playful adults. The Wisdom writer in Provers 17, talks about the importance of a cheerful spirit. Every time I am around a miserable person, I hear a little voice in my ear asking the question, “Why is this person so downhearted?” I encourage you to take a look at the following verse from Proverbs 15, and encourage you to pray to the Lord for a return to cheerfulness.

Proverbs 17: 22      A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. [1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are your most pleasant memories from your childhood?
  2. At what point do you think that adults begin to lose the cheerfulness of their youth?
  3. What can we learn from Jesus Christ regarding a cheerful spirit?


Prayer: Lord, grant me a cheerful spirit. Free my heart, that even in my old age I might learn to laugh, and play. Lord, teach me cheerfulness, even during troubling times, teach me to find something to smile about. Bless me with an uplifted spirit, a positive countenance, and a heart, guided by love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Pr 17:22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.