How many friends do you have? How do you know?
Marcus keeps close track of the number of Christmas cards he receives each year. He shows off a huge stack he’s organizing on his dining room table. I flip through them with overt disinterest. Many include photos of dogs or cute kids or smiling people in front of historic landmarks. Others include two-sided letters describing jolly good years. A pang of envy punctures my holiday spirit. Marcus is a psychologist and a close colleague, so I ask him if he believes his stack of cards represents how many friends he really has. Before answering, Marcus hesitates, looks me in the eye and asks, “How many cards did you get?” Counting Marcus’s card I received in November, I think I’m up to seven. “Over a half dozen,” I answer. Rather than gloating over his hallmark victory, Marcus touches my arm and replies, “Don, there is no correlation between number of friends and number of Christmas cards.” Now there’s a true friend.