Katya made this sweet card for Natalia on her birthday. Setting aside the fact that "Corinne" wasn't spelled correctly, I love it. It is a perfect example of how Katya is growing up in two cultures.... The wishes she wrote inside are EXACTLY what Russians say to congratulate people on their birthdays.
It starts young--as soon as kids are old enough to talk, they start spouting these toasts--really! I mentioned when writing about Natalia's kindergarten party how you can easily imagine these little kids thirty years into the future saying the same things, accompanied by a shot of vodka! (That story got published in Aeroflot's flight magazine one month).
To an American, a lot of the syrop-y prose associated with holidays is often a bit much. Instant gag reflex. "You've got to be kidding" reactions. This is really true on Teacher's Day, when the kids in many schools spout over an hour of over-the-top odes to the adults... To Americans, I think, it simply rings as untrue and insincere--the way people often react to the poetry in Hallmark cards.
This poetry is such a part of the culture that one of the administrators in our school simply couldn't believe me that we don't have equivalents in English. She wanted to know the correct versions in English, so they could include them in school's festivities this year. She expected some long, verbose prose that kids use to wish their parents a Merry Christmas. When I deadpanned that kids simply write, "Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad!", she didn't think I was serious... I think she thought I was simply ignorant.
It was hard to explain why we don't say the same things... How sappy poetry written by others is interpreted as insincere in our culture, and can end up having the opposite meaning than that which was intended. We value poetry as poetry--but not in a greeting card, or memorized as rote greetings during an assembly.
Anyone else agree? Or is it just me?