For as long as I can remember, my wife has recognized the importance of making memories and remembering the good things about activities that might seem mundane to others. When our children were growing up, even simple trips were important. Whether returning from the beach, a convention or a shopping trip, she would always ask them what the most fun thing we did was, or the most exciting, or most important.

After our kids were grown, she started posing those questions to me; and as soon as our grands were old enough to think and talk, she quizzed them in the same manner. She also makes sure we do things to make our excursions memorable.

As a family, most of us are Tennessee Volunteer fans. At every opportunity we attend games at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena. We have made sure that all seven of our stinking cute grandchildren have experienced the atmosphere of Neyland. It’s not as important as going to church, but it’s pretty important.

For Katie Grace and James David, the initial encounter occurred during the current football season. K.G. celebrated her sixth birthday with Nahnee and Papa and tens of thousands of fans. A few weeks later James David took in his first game in a sea of orange. His older siblings had experienced the feeling a few years earlier.

K.G. was decked out in a cheerleader outfit provided by her Aunt Stacia, and Nahnee made sure James David wore a respectable amount of orange apparel. The weather for K.G.’s game was scorching. At James David’s debut it was so chilly that he had to wear a black coat over his Tennessee orange hoody. He was, in fact, concerned that he might be ejected from the stands because his orange was hidden.

Grayson and Anderson came with their mom and dad to K.G.’s game. Guess what Nahnee asked our four younger grandchildren regarding those two games. Yep! She asked each of them what the best thing about the game was.

Prior to the trip to Knoxville, I had asked James David what he expected the best thing about the game to be, and he thought nachos and cheese would be the highlight of the trip. But afterwards he agreed that watching the game and seeing the huge crowd was pretty impressive. One of the most fun things, though, was watching Papa try to climb over other fans to get back to our seats after a trip to the concession stand.

Grayson is pretty savvy about the game. When asked about his favorite moment in the game he named a specific play, a long pass reception on the 35 yard line.

Anderson’s response was an exclamation: “Did you see those cheerleaders doing flips?”

Predictably, K.G.’s answer came in the form of a list. “Well, No. 1, I liked watching the game. No. 2 was the band. No. 3 was seeing ‘Smokey’. No. 4 was singing ‘Rocky Top’...”

Guess what! We are all different, and that’s good. Each individual is their own special person. … That’s as it should be. All of us look different, think differently, have a diversity of emotions, place a variety of values on particular things. That’s the way God made us, and each of us is important to Him.

The Psalmist says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Jeremiah, the Prophet, quotes God as saying He has plans for us. Jesus said that God loves the world so much that He gave us His only begotten Son, and the world includes all of us, no matter our race, gender, intellect, social standing … or which football team we cheer for.

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Steve Playl — chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor — can be emailed at

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