Two Traditions | University of California – Santa Cruz Undergraduate Application Essay

I open my front door and the rich perfume of pine needles fills my nose. I step in, close the door behind me, and smile at the familiar scene. To my left sits the Christmas tree, covered in various decorations, ranging from tiny tin stars to felted angels. On the very top of the tree rests a golden Star of David. I turn away and continue through the rest of the house. I walk through the kitchen and greet my father, who is momentarily distracted by what he calls “his gift with the art of latke making.” I laugh and sneak a bite of the delicious potato pancake before proceeding to the back room, where my mother is sitting on the floor surrounded by festive Christmas wrapping paper along with an assortment of handmade gifts. Although the holiday season is my favorite time of year, it doesn’t come without its conflicts.

This overlapping of two different traditions was something that many in my extended family didn’t understand. My mother’s side of the family consists of strict Mormons and traditional Salvadorians, while my father’s family is Jewish. Neither side agreed with my parents’ decision to teach me that it was okay to celebrate both holidays. As a young child, I was oblivious to the tension, but as I grew older, I became…

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