Dear Amy:

When four siblings (two single, two married) agree to buy a gift for their parents and split the cost four ways, is it correct for the married siblings to assume their spouses will be included in the gift as well without the couples contributing more to the cost of the gift?

In my humble opinion, the single siblings get the shaft in that deal. My married siblings say being married makes them "one person."

- Perplexed Post Christmas

Dear Perplexed: I don't know about or subscribe to the "one person" defense, but I do know about siblings at Christmas.

In my view, the siblings involved should consider themselves to be "household units." Each household unit headed by a sibling should contribute an equal amount to the gift. How these various household units raise the money - or sign the cards - is their business. In my case, the card might read, "With love, from Amy and Chester (he's the cat)."

You have to imagine it this way: If all parents are living, your married siblings have two sets of parents to give Christmas gifts to, thus doubling their Christmas commitment and stretching their "oneness" to the limit.

Dear Amy: Regarding people who fight over politics, I developed a response to people who have no tolerance for a differing point of view, and I've used it with great success both in e-mail and in person.

"We obviously have widely differing points of view on this subject, and I respect your right to believe as you do, but I value our friendship too much to pursue this line of conversation. So, let's change the subject."

Peace is achieved one friendship at a time.

- Susan

Dear Susan: Hear, hear!

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