I wasn’t quite fifteen, and it wasn’t quite Christmas, when I came to the United States in the first days of December 1991 as an exchange student. The Soviet Union was a couple of weeks away from complete disintegration, and Moscow, from which I flew to New York, was dark and cold.
It was the shortest days of the year, when dusk fell at three pm, and street lamps were sparse. The world I was leaving was the world of startling food shortages, long lines for the bare necessities, and complete uncertainty, where a pair of jeans would either cost you half a month’s wages or be made in some underground workshop.
The world I came to was the world of Christmas lights decorating private homes with backyards, a room for each child, weekly hauls from the supermarket, and baking sheets upon baking sheets of Christmas cookies that my host mother made for colleagues, family and community.
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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Montpelier VT 05601-0567