‘You Americans’ addresses us as one big family



My friend Donna was telling me about a guest she had visiting at her house recently.

The British woman had expressed her fascination with American behaviors. She kept saying “You Americans” and then shaking her head.

My girlfriend started to get a little offended and finally asked the woman to be more specific as to why she referred to us as “You Americans.”

The woman responded, “You Americans are so passionate about your Sunday football. Everywhere you go “You Americans” have it on the television, or are catching up on the latest scores, or having your tailgate parties.”

Then she added, “You Americans are obsessed with chocolate too. You have chocolate Santas, chocolate hearts at Valentine’s day and even chocolate Easter bunnies.”

As she spoke, my girlfriend realized that this woman was looking at Americans as a whole and not mentioning any race, political party or religions. She just lumped us all together as “You Americans.”

As Donna finished telling me the story, I told her that it reminded me in a way of my large family. People outside the family were always telling my mother how she had such well-behaved children. “They are always so respectful and pleasant.” Mom said she would have to force herself to smile graciously and say, “Thank you,” all the while thinking, “These people cannot be talking about the Smith children.”

Yes, to outsiders, we looked like a very cohesive group, but we all knew the in-house fighting that was going on. I remember a time when I chased a younger brother around the house for eating my already designated last bowl of Cocoa Krispies, and yet, I was there to help him when the tire on his bike needed to be refilled.

If someone from outside the family was picking on a younger sibling, there was always an older sibling who would come to the rescue. Even now, with our varying political beliefs and Christian doctrines, we still rally around each other when something bad comes up. “You Smiths” are still linked by a common bond.

And Donna’s houseguest was right. We Americans have so many things we do together, despite our apparent infighting. Locally, we have the annual boat parades and the Christmas concerts. There are so many of those “You Americans” things that we do that unite us.

Maybe that is why, when another country needs our help either from a hurricane or tsunami, we are there to pitch in. We, too, are linked by a common bond.

Later that week, I was with a group of people cheering passionately for opposite football teams. But despite the competitive atmosphere, everyone agreed on the pizza and the beer. It was a real “You Americans” afternoon.

Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career. A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Scott now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She lives on St. Helena Island and enjoys boating, traveling and reading.

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