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.