/ "the department stores on Fifth Avenue" - Williams Essay
RequiredImagine looking through a window at any environment that is particularly significant to you. Reflect on the scene, paying close attention to the relation between what you are seeing and why it is meaningful to you. Please limit your statement to 300 words.
I remember that afternoon long ago when my father took me to the department stores on Fifth Avenue. It was one of those cold days that you see in cheesy holiday movies, the type of cold that warms you, the type of cold that lets you press your nose up against the glass and leave a soft imprint. There was a crowd of people clustered around Saks, staring into a tall window that was lit up with Christmas lights. We pushed our way into the crowd and my dad lifted me up on his shoulders. I blew into the window and a soft mist settled over the scene that I saw. There were miniature Santa Claus figurines bejeweled with plastic gems, synthetic elves sledding along a track, their movements mechanical in nature, all dancing to "Let it Snow" in a proscribed rhythm.
Maybe I should have been outraged. I am Jewish, and nowhere in the window display was there a golden menorah hanging up high, or Maccabees waving their swords to "Dreidel, Dreidel". That would have been absurd. And yet I felt just as home in that one moment, staring at the imagery of a foreign religion, as I do sitting in my synagogue praying (I'm not particularly observant but I certainly have a strong sense of faith).
We all belong to a number of communities throughout our lives, some because of common interests or beliefs that we share, others for seemingly arbitrary reasons. For me, the communities I feel closest to are the ones where there is a heterogeneous blend of people, communities where I can provide a different perspective rather than reinforcing one. Being different in a crowd only helps me reinforce my beliefs, and forces me to back them up, rather than blindly following them.
Looking back on the crowd below me, I saw people of all religions, races, ages, and genders, all united around this holiday that had become so secularized that it was quintessentially American. And for a moment, I felt ok being one of them.