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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 14-year-old girl going on 15. I am half-Mexican. In the Mexican culture, a girl's 15th birthday is the year in which she becomes a woman. Most girls have a "quinceanera" party for this birthday. But these celebrations cost a lot of money -- almost as much as a wedding.

I have been debating whether or not I should have one. My mom says she would rather put the money toward my college fund. I agree with her, but I also feel like I should acknowledge my Mexican background as much as I do the Caucasian part. I don't want to pressure my parents, but I also don't want to be left out when my friends talk about their quinceaneras. What do you think? -- PARTY OR NOT IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PARTY OR NOT: A quinceanera may cost almost as much as a wedding, but there are weddings for every budget. We have all heard of families who have gone into debt to finance a wedding, but I never advise readers to go into debt for something like that.

If your primary reason for wanting a quinceanera is so you won't feel left out of the conversation when friends talk about theirs, consider a small celebration with some of your girlfriends. That way your college fund won't be depleted, and you'll spend fewer years paying off student loans.

One of my friends, Fabiola, told me that some godmothers ("madrinas") help to defray the cost of a quinceanera. There can be a godmother for the cake, another for the dress, etc. But she also told me that although her mother insisted she have a quinceanera, in thinking back about it, she wishes she'd had that money for college. There are other ways to celebrate your Mexican heritage than spending a lot of money, so please give this some serious thought.

Read more in: Sex & Gender

Young Mother Unsure About Raising A Boy

DEAR ABBY: I just learned that my unborn child is a boy. Some people tell me that it's harder to raise a baby boy, but others tell me differently. I don't know who to believe anymore. I am only five months pregnant and already feeling stressed. -- 19 AND CONFUSED

DEAR 19 AND CONFUSED: Your pregnancy and subsequent motherhood will be 100 percent easier if you stop listening to people who relish putting negative thoughts in the heads of others. If you want reliable information about raising your little boy, the person to get it from is your pediatrician.

Read more in: Family & Parenting

Abby Offers Equal Opportunity Holiday Greetings

DEAR ABBY: I saw your Christmas column in which you included a note to all your Christian readers, and frankly I found it a little rude. Not only Christian people celebrate Christmas; many of us celebrate it as a secular holiday, a time to celebrate the love and joy in our lives and our family (both blood relatives and the people we make our family).

I don't recall you wishing a Happy Hanukkah, a Blessed Ramadan or a Happy Yule to your Jewish, Muslim and Pagan readers (although I may have missed it). I'm not usually one to care about such things, but since people from all walks of life come to you for advice, it would be nice to see you reach out to all of your readers. -- HAPPY PAGAN CHICK IN DENVER

DEAR HAPPY PAGAN CHICK: You must not be a regular reader if you miss all of my holiday greetings. It has long been my practice to offer good wishes to my readers during the major holidays. This includes greetings to my Christian readers at Easter and Christmas, my Jewish readers at Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, and my Muslim readers when the fast of Ramadan is broken.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)