1994 | Moscow, Russia | Age: 12
This tea container actually did not come with me, but it is something that I saw throughout my childhood. Whenever I visited my grandparents, who also lived in Moscow, they’d serve loose tea from it. It’s quite old; I think it’s actually my great-grandmother’s. There’s nothing special about it. It’s not expensive. It’s not made of any special material. I never thought much of it until I saw that my grandparents had brought it with them when they immigrated a couple years after us. Over time they started to use tea bags, and a few years back, I noticed that they weren’t keeping loose tea in it anymore. I said to my grandmother, “Oh, I remember you using this container!” and she said, “If it’s special to you, you can have it.” So I washed it and fixed it up a bit, because it was falling apart. And now I keep it in my memory box, because it reminds me of the weekends I spent with my grandparents in their Moscow apartment and how we’d have tea from this container every morning, and night, and afternoon, and whenever Russians have tea, which is a lot. I don’t keep loose tea in it now because we don’t drink it that much either, but it’s there if we ever decide to switch. We’ve tried to, but you know, the convenience factor...
This book is a book that used to be my very, very favorite when I was a child. It’s called “Malysh i Karlson,” and it’s by Astrid Lindgren, who is a Swedish author. There are a couple other novels in this book, but honestly the main attraction was this guy. He’s a little middle-aged man, who has a propeller on his back. He can fly, and he lives in a little house hidden behind a chimney on the roof of an apartment building in Stockholm. It’s a funny novel, and without exaggerating, I think I’ve read it maybe 40 times, maybe more. Sometimes I’d finish reading it and start it all over again. I thought it was such a fun novel, and it distracted me from whatever stresses kids have.
We had a lot of books in the house, so we actually shipped most of them in parcels, and a couple of them unfortunately did get lost. But luckily this one did not, and after a couple of months it made it here to Philadelphia. I was so thrilled to have it. I was so terrified that this particular one would get lost. I didn’t realize it at the time, none of us did, that we’d actually be able to buy Russian books here. We thought that whatever we’d bring, would be our Russian library for the rest of our lives. Thankfully that’s not the case. As you can see, its pages are totally ruined. Some are taped up. A lot also have food stains on them because I had a bad habit of reading while eating. But it’s still special, because it’s the book I re-read a billion times.
This is a Christmas tree ornament that came all the way with us. Really, it’s a New Year’s tree ornament, because we don’t really celebrate Christmas. It’s a little bell that was actually my mother’s. So it’s very, very old. Not that my mother very old. But if I’m 35, it’s over 50 years old. We had a New Year’s tree every winter, and a lot of the ornaments that we had on our tree were from my mother’s childhood. This one survived the journey and being packed in luggage. My husband celebrates Christmas, so we put it up on our Christmas/New Year’s tree every year. And my daughter knows that’s she’s the third generation person who has had this particular ornament on her tree. We always put it in a particular spot, and it reminds me of my childhood New Year’s.