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Dear Abby: Our son is 8 months old, and my wife is busy planning his first birthday party. The party will be in February, which makes it too cold for anything outside. She plans to invite 50 guests, including children.

Our house is small, so she wants to rent a hall and have the party catered. Is this too much for a first birthday party? We're saving for a new house, and what she has in mind will be expensive.

My wife says I'm cruel for not supporting her idea of a big bash for our son. I think that having our immediate family together, healthy and alive, is special enough. Am I being a curmudgeon?

-- Sensible in Norristown, Pa.
Dear Sensible: You're not a curmudgeon -- you are someone who has his eye on a goal and hasn't lost his perspective. The party your wife is planning is really for her, not the baby. All a child that age needs for his birthday is his mommy, his daddy, and a few close relatives to celebrate the occasion with a cake he can put his hands and face into -- and, of course, a camera.

Save your words

Dear Abby: I am pregnant with my first baby. For some reason, almost every woman I speak to feels the need to tell me about the hell I am about to endure. Apparently I will never spend another minute alone with my husband. My car will be ruined, and my house will be a permanent disaster. Very few people tell me how wonderful it is to be a mom.

I would just ask that when a woman is expecting, please don't assume it's a license to complain about how terrible it was when your children were young. My husband and I planned this pregnancy, but if I had heard half the horror stories I've heard in the past several months, I probably would have taken a different route.

-- Mom-to-Be in Southern California
Dear Mom-to-Be: If parenthood didn't have many rewards, do you think that these doom-spreaders would have had more than one child? While it's only logical that having children is a life-changing experience, it is also an individual process. For some people the adjustment may be painful. However, for many others, the changes are welcome and the joys are bountiful. Think positive and tune the naysayers out.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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