Tatyana Yassenov
And then he grew tired and died. Leaving behind a 39-year-old widow with six children. The youngest 6, the oldest 16. His co-workers gave them 500 rubles. In 1952 would that money feed children for a few months? No way. Frustrated, my mother put the money in the bank for a rainy day. She worked and worked-- and despite a difficult life survived for 47more years.And still kept that money for a rainy day.When she passed away my sister went to the bank to close out mother's account. Then she stopped at the store and spent all the' money she just got from the bank.
She bought three loaves of bread.

We knew it was coming.
My husband along with several other smart men committed a federal crime.
They had built a small weaving factory to make clothing. The prices were affordable, the workers at the factory made more income and the government was getting a bonus.
But private businesses were prohibited in the Soviet Union!
They knocked at my door, showed their K.G.B. ID and told me that they have to search my apartment. They informed me that my husband was picked up from 'work and taken to prison.
My 2 years old son started crying. I asked them if possible to let my neighbor to take the baby. Surprisingly they agreed.
3 men and a woman began the search. They were looking for money and documents as evidence of a crime. They found an audiotape with my voice singing a funny song about my love for money.
Oh, money money you are my happiness
How I love you my money
You bring joy into my life..
That was a song from the show that I was performing.
One of the searchers asked me to put a bed spread in front of the closet in my bedrooms he would not throw my underwear directly on the floor.
I said-" Why can't the woman do this?"
He said-" I'm not touching YOU and this is my job"
He took each piece of my underwear, shook it and drooped it on-
the floor.
I was about to throw up... I felt like I was publicly raped.
The search lasted 5 hours. They took with them a few items. The apartment looked like a battlefield.
My neighbor brought back my sleeping baby, hot tea and food. I couldn't eat and I couldn't cry. I was numb. They took with them our family future... The next morning I woke up to begin my long journey as a
prisoners wife...

New Year is one of the biggest holidays in Russia. There are no religious divisions. The evergreen trees are decorated in every home and every child goes to a celebration with Father Frost and his granddaughter Snow Maiden.

I remember New Year 1980. I am packing boxes with food to celebrate New Year with my 8-year old son and his father, who is in prison. I want to keep all of the traditions for my son and to make the visit as happy as possible. I have an artificial tree decorated with hand-made toys. I packed a nice cotton tablecloth. I cooked several meals even enough for possible unexpected guests.

We are going to spend three days in the so-called family visiting rooms. Along with about 20 or 25 other lucky families, we will share one stove, two restrooms, one refrigerator where your stuff could be easily stolen and a bunch of screaming kids. From time to time, we may see a mouse in the room so all of my nicely packed boxes with food will be sitting on two single beds.

The main problem is to transport alcohol through security. You see, I have become an experienced prisoner's wife. I have been smuggling it for six years because my husband knows how to bribe security.

I filled my hot water bottle with pure medical alcohol that can be easily diluted to become vodka. I put it on my tummy and tied it to my body with a scarf under the sweater. I checked in the mirror and it did not look suspicious.

Good Job Tatyana! We are ready to go! Happy New Year!