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Karma Cleanser 

Will it come back to bite you?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

This may sound like it's too early, but I have a Christmas question.

My cousin and I have been close since we were young and we exchange gifts each year. He lives in another state, so we do not speak as often as we used to. Usually around Thanksgiving of each year, he sends me a few ideas of things I could buy for him, and I do the same. It's always a small gift (usually no more than $25 or so) but just a reminder that we are family and we still care. I am now finally finished with college and a long internship, and I have a new job making a larger salary than last year. My cousin sent me his holiday wish list earlier than normal, around Halloween. And every item on the list is around $100!

How do I respond? I will definitely buy him a gift, but I don't necessarily want to spend $100 (although I could afford it). I just worry this is the start of a bad trend.

-- The Grinch's Cuter Sister

Therein lies the rub of this bloated holiday monster we've all created. All of a sudden, every relationship in our lives has to be assigned a monetary value. You're not smarting at the price tag, per se, but you clearly don't think that a distant relative living in another city deserves your hard-won lucre. At least not that much of it. Send him your usual wish list with gifts all in the $25 range, and request a more realistic version of his.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I've met a great guy. He's young (24), has a great smile and a promising job. He makes me laugh, which I think is even more important than good looks or anything else. We've been on several dates. He's met my mom and dad. My friends like him.

He's also a Mormon. My mom and dad don't know this, but it will be a problem. They are Catholic. And his parents, therefore, will never want to meet me, nor ever recognize our marriage.

It's like a cruel twist of karma: After dating five assholes in a row, I finally have met a keeper. But his religion seems to be the deal-breaker.

Is it better for me to break it off and suffer today rather than face the wrath of karma later?

-- Salt Lake Heartbreak

You've totally missed the point of the entire karma concept. It's not fate, but consequence, or the cosmic law of balance and action. Finally landing a suitable partner after a string of losers may be a reward for your patience, a sign that there's hope yet. Yes, the new guy has issues of his own, but who doesn't? As our spiritual muse Lucas once told us, "This is just the universe flowing through you." Forget his parents, forget yours, and let it flow.

Been bad? karmacleanser@gmail.com.

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