Roy Exum: A Bless-ed Christmas Gift

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

It was back in April when I read a wonderful story on one of the websites I scan during My Morning Readings. It had a story that caught my soul. The website is “Little Dumb Man” and, because I am most certainly one of those, it is a continuous joy for me to visit. The story was entitled “15 Signs That Show Someone is a Real, True Friend.” I read it and printed a copy off to save in my files until I could share it just before Christmas, which you know is now two weeks away. Can you believe that eight months ago, I realized that the ultimate Christmas gift that any of us can give is “true friendship.”

Oh, don’t take this lightly, no sir! Just like anything else of value, you’ve got to work at it, nurture it, savor it, but I believe that when you embrace it, the gift of friendship … true friendship, as you are going to soon understand a bit better, is worth far more than can ever be contained in a pretty wrapped package and opened on Christmas morning.

For the past 25 years or so in my life, the only thing I have ever wished for is “a chance.” Because of that, I have been presented a bunch. Some I have taken, some I have missed, but no matter where I might be aiming, nothing can rival a chance to be a better person, a chance to make a difference in another person’s life, a chance to do a favor, a chance to go that extra mile, a chance to hold a trembling hand, or a chance to share a laugh.

I don’t mean to appear maudlin, but among the greatest lessons of my childhood was when I learned “if you love people, they’ll love you back.” I have reached the age where I’ve got all of the crunchy peanut butter-and-strawberry jam I’ll ever need, but there isn’t a day that day that goes past I don’t try to find my “newest best friend.” I try to write somebody a love letter every day and, while I can never live up to my expectations of being the kind of person I hope to be, I can’t tell you how much fun it is to come close on a certain day.

What I dream is that this Christmas folks who I adore will take less than 30 minutes to hand-write a note to that lady in church who is going through the first Christmas without her husband of 44 years, or that couple who has a mentally-challenged child who is now in her 30s and anguish over her future when they are gone, or that boy down the street who has been practicing high school football and never gotten in a game. Trust me, this is so easy. The guy who was laid off, the mother whose son was just arrested, the couple who haven’t seen nor heard from a rebellious child in five years. 

Don’t you see, giving your friendship doesn’t cost a dime, but if you’ll apply it, it is more valuable than a human life. It is said to be gentle to those you meet, because they are carrying a far greater burden than you are. There are people in your circle who have lost a spouse, a child, a loved one and the funeral was huge. Everybody came, the church was full … but now, four months later … the silence is deafening. What do you imagine a note from you might mean compared to the small wrapped presents they will open alone?

I must warn, as you read these 15 signs of true friendship, to not search for your flaws. Do not worry that you have failed to do No. 4, No. 11, or tended to every fallen leaf in the garden. Instead focus on the good and “real” ways that you have delivered on the other 13 signs and then you’ll realize your gift of friendship is one of the most precious and glorious gifts that you will enjoy in every day to come.

Here we go … search for the signs …

* * *


[NOTE: This story appeared on the Little Dumb Many website ( on April 26, 2019. It was written by John Vadenport, who is the Co-founder of, a platform that helps people become more social.]

Friends are very important in our lives. If you have a true friend and find love in someone special, then you are one of the luckiest people in the world.

Essentially, true friendship is an expression of a type of love.

Whether you find friendship in a lover or someone you are just friends with, there may be a time when you question if this person is a true friend or not — and that’s ok. Even well-established relationships need reviewing once in a while. No one would like to invest time into a relationship that is unproductive or heading nowhere.

These 15 signs of true friendship will help you determine whether someone in your life is a real friend or not.


A real friend will encourage you in anything that you try. They will be there every step of the way, looking for opportunities to help you grow. Your cause becomes their cause. They will rejoice when you are making progress and celebrate with you.


Life has its ups and downs. For many people, it is easy to stick around when the going is good but not when things are tough.

A real friend is not one of these many people, he or she is different.

They will be there when the going gets tough. Your worries become their worries. They share your successes as well as your failures.


We are all humans and we may screw up sometimes. With a fake friend, a mistake can cost you a friendship but this is not the case with a real friend. A real friend forgives because he or she values your friendship more than your mistakes.


Whether you are wrong or right, once the deed has been done, a real friend will stand by you no matter what.

They will take your side and fight for you irrespective of who is on the other side. But even so, they will rebuke you and correct you when you are wrong.


Fake friends will only contact you when they need something or when things take a turn in their life. A real friend will contact you because they are interested in what is going on in your life.


No one knows you quite like your real friends. If anyone is privy to your dark little secrets, it would be your true friend. A real friend values your confidence and will keep your secrets safe with them.


A real friend doesn’t just stay in touch via calls or chats, they make time for you. If you need them to help out with something really important, they will find time for it.

They will also squeeze out time to spend casually with you even when they have busy schedules.


A loyal and faithful friend is a true friend. Such a friend is someone who is unwavering in their devotion to you and any agreed cause. He or she would not betray you and can be trusted to keep to agreements.


A true friend knows your flaws but still accepts you regardless. The person does not go about mocking or humiliating you, especially in public.

A real friend will showcase your bright sides while helping you work on your weakness where they can.


A true friend is real, the person discusses things openly with you and does not hide feelings.

A real friend will tell you the truth irrespective of whether it hurts or pleases.

That’s not to say they don’t care how you will feel, they actually do.


A true friend keeps promises. When a real friend says something, the person means it and keeps his words.

If something happens that makes fulfilling a promise difficult, a true friend will be sincere in telling you. And they would make it up to you at a later time.


A true friend should be a trusting and trustworthy person.

You are going to be sharing a chunk of your life with this person. It is important that they be someone you can trust and who trust you also.

The thing about trust is that it is earned. A true friend will not only earn your trust but not break it.


Part of what makes someone a true friend is their understanding of you and how well they know you.

A friend should be able to say what you can do and what you cannot. A real friend may even understand you more than you understand yourself.

They will always have your interest at heart.


What we care about we think about, and what we think about we remember. A true friend hardly forgets any event that is dear to you.

It may be your birthday, anniversary or any other celebrations.

When they can’t make it there, they will be proactive in telling you. Also, when it comes to discussions, a true friend will remember most because they are true listeners.


Thinking of other people before oneself is an attribute of love. A true friend is a loving and caring friend.

Such a person will always look out for your interest, sometimes to their own detriment.

True friendship is about sacrifices.

* * *

This is going to come across as plumb awful, but in April when I became enamored with the idea of us giving a “real and true friendship” as the ultimate Christmas gift, little did I realize at the time the best friend I’ve ever had was born on Christmas in a manger. What’s awful is the realization these 15 signs also describe every dog I’ve ever had that yearned for my whistle. Love comes in a lot of packages, doesn’t it? I hope there is one wrapped under your tree.

That Much Good

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

A Plan For Making City Parks Accessible To Everyone

H.Q., John Cupp, Jim Hammond. As I grew up in Chattanooga, and throughout my 32 years of law practice, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and the larger than life men who have served ... (click for more)

These two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services. ... (click for more)

As a mayoral candidate, I have a plan for making Chattanooga’s parks and outdoor recreational activities accessible to every Chattanoogan by reconnecting Outdoor Chattanooga with Youth and Family ... (click for more)


That Much Good

H.Q., John Cupp, Jim Hammond. As I grew up in Chattanooga, and throughout my 32 years of law practice, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and the larger than life men who have served the voters and citizens in that seat have inspired me with their dedication and hard work. From time to time during my career, these gentlemen have coached me, counseled me and taught me. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

These two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." In the silence that follows, allow me to welcome you to this ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has 1 More Coronavirus Death, Cases Top 6,000; State Has 9 More Deaths

The Hamilton County Health Department reported on Saturday that the total number of Hamilton County resident deaths has risen one more to 54. Total cases now are 6,031 in Hamilton County, an increase of 104. Tennessee had 9 more deaths bringing the toll to 1,215. There were 1,803 new cases for a total of 120,585. There were 72 more hospitalized to bring that total ... (click for more)

Witnesses Saw Road Rage Killing Of 19-Year-Old Caleb McKean; Got Tag Number Of Mazda Driven By Terry Beard, Who Confessed

Police said several people witnessed the road rage killing of 19-year-old Caleb McKean on Friday afternoon. One got the tag number of the distinctive Mazda driven by the shooter. That let police to 43-year-old Terry Julius Beard, who confessed and has been charged with criminal homicide. At approximately 2:42 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a person shot call in ... (click for more)


Chattanooga FC Falls 2-1 To Michigan Stars

The Michigan Stars scored late in the match for a 2-1 victory over Chattanooga FC on Saturday. It was the start of the fall season of the National Independent Soccer Association. Steven Juncaj broke at 1-1 tie in the 88th minute while hitting an 18-yard shot at Ultimate Soccer Arenas Outdoor Stadium at Pontiac, Mich. After the Stars took the lead, Chattanooga FC had ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Strengthens Roster With New Players Before NISA Fall Season

When Chattanooga’s Football Club travels north for the NISA fall conference opener, there will be some new faces on the trip. The club is proud to announce the signing of defender Shaun Russell in addition to last month’s signing of midfielder David Koloko. Here’s a deeper dive into the new players joining the first team: David Koloko: Koloko is a 6’1” midfielder/defender ... (click for more)