[Ed. Note: The letter that follows was originally written entirely in Spanish. The Editor apologizes for any grammatical errors made in translation].
You are such un gato maravilloso the way you give advice to people. Whenever I have a problem, I snuggle with my cat, Sombra (that is Spanish for "Shadow". Like you, he is un gato negro). This is why I write to you, because I trust you to give me good counsel.
I am a 14 year old Latina. My birthday is this summer, but my parents do not have the money to offer me a proper La Quinceañera. My Papá has been out of work for over a year, and my Mamá has had to go to work cleaning houses to help pay the bills. They are deeply ashamed of this, but I love them for all they are doing to make sure mi hermana [sister] and I are well cared for and happy. Sadly, the money Mamá brings home is not enough to pay all of our bills; and mis padres have had to use the money they had saved for my La Quinceañera to pay our mortgage and other expenses. They still want me to have a Misa de acción de gracias [Mass of thanksgiving], complete with all the trimmings, but there will be no money for a proper fiesta to follow. Querida gatita [cherished kitty], this would be more embarrassing than to have no La Quinceañera gathering at all!
In my culture, to invite guests to such a special occasion and then not provide a fiesta to follow is the greatest of insults! Plus, it would reflect poorly upon my padrinos [godparents], who have twin daughters of their own who will soon be turning fifteen. Mi familia does not wish to take from their celebration in order to provide for my own. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this problema terrible?
La Muchacha con Tristeza [The Girl With Sadness]
Dear La Muchacha con Tristeza:
Gracias por los elogios! (Thank you for the compliments). I hope I did not mangle the translation of your letter too badly. According to a Quinceañera magazine poll, one-third of respondents planned on spending upwards of $800 on their dress alone. This is a lot of dinero (money)to put down on a dress, especially when you are on a budget. Is it possible to cut the cost of the dress and put the savings towards a small fiesta? Do you have an older friend or relative who has already celebrated her La Quinceañera who would be willing to lend you her dress? I realize the dress is a special part of the day; but think how special it would be if you and your mejor amiga (best friend) got to share a dress for such a special occasion? Would it be like a daughter wearing her mother's wedding gown? (I am not Latina, so I am not certain if this would be proper). If this idea is not workable, do you know someone who sews and would be willing to offer their talents as a gift for your special occasion? A home-sewn gown, when done properly, will outshine anything that you can buy in a store for a fraction of the cost. If you do not know someone who sews, do you have abuelos (grandparents) or other relatives who could purchase a gown as their gift to you?
The most important part of La Quinceañera is not the fiesta, but the Misa de acción de gracias (Mass of thanksgiving). So often, this is forgotten in the planning of the festivities that follow. Rather than rent a huge banquet hall, would you be able to celebrate in your church hall? If your sacerdote (priest) is aware of your parents financial situation, he may be willing to offer the space free of charge. Do you have friends who know how to DJ? Might they be willing to offer their services as a gift for your special birthday? You do not need to approach these people yourself, but rather your padrinos could ask them for sponsorship. From what I have read about La Quinceañera, multiple sponsorships to defray the expenses are not uncommon. Do not think of these offerings as caridad (charity), but as gifts from loving amigos and amigas (friends) who want to help make your La Quinceañera all that you deserve!
*This is how you say "Snuggles", right?
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really el hablar felino (a talking feline) - in English or Spanish.