Thanksgiving offers human connection


My beautiful family when my Aunt Pam came home to visit in Wellsville. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis


As we all reflect on the time, we spent with our loved ones this holiday we brace ourselves for the next family gathering a few weeks away.


Many of you have read about my family, adventures, and childhood in my several columns over the years. You know how important it all is to me.


My Aunt Pam and Myself when she came home. PHOTO BY LISA WILLIS

If you are new to my story, I would like to share why Thanksgiving is so important.


Thanksgiving is a time spent with family and friends as we honor nostalgia. We see how much has changed with new faces, new babies coming into our family tree, or babies growing up too fast, or new jobs and homes.


This recent Thanksgiving with my newest niece Eliana. PHOTO BY LISA WILLIS

Thanksgiving is an awakening of what is to come in the year ahead so that we can brace ourselves for Christmas. We can calculate the new babies or how old the babies actually are now so that we can prepare for the influx of gift buying. We can ask all the same questions that our parents were asked when we were the babies.


BLAST TO THE PAST: Old family holiday with Leah, Nate and I as babies and Grandma Jean. PHOTO BY LISA WILLIS

I really truly love Thanksgiving. It is more than just good food, pie, and gathering around a large table after hours of preparation. It is about talking to the ones you love the most. You have actual human conversations. Now more than ever we need those human connections.

We need to remind ourselves what it means to talk to another person.


Growing up as a child of the 80s I am thankful that I had basically no technology until I was in college. I was allowed to grow up in this magical time of human connection.


My Grandpa Don holding me as a baby. PHOTOS BY LISA WILLIS

I had to go outside and use my ever-growing imagination to discover the world. I had to make friends the old-fashioned way of having them play in my backyard. We would explore all the parts of our world in the summertime. We had a rusty old train bridge we would dare each other to cross all summer long. We had a small creek bed that may as well been the Mississippi River in our minds. We had the small shops on Main Street we would ride our bikes to with our pockets stuffed full of change for bags of candy and soda.


Going to school meant walking the railroad tracks with my little brother and a couple friends. We would always pass a tiny store on the corner, and that would be a candy and soda stop every single time.


MY Goddaughter Harley is a proud cheerleader in Attica. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

After school we would race home to play. We would take empty tic-tac containers and collect tadpoles by the creek bed. We would collect salamanders, butterflies, caterpillars, and other small creatures.


MY Godson Brantley at his sister's cheer competition with his daddy Greg. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS


We always had a small fluffy animal to play with at home like a puppy, kitten, hamster, bunny, or all the above. Being surrounded by the world and everything that made it beautiful is what turned me into the human I am today.


My niece Savannah when I took her to the Buffalo Zoo. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Being thankful on Thanksgiving to be around all the ones I love as we talk about our childhood memories, show old photos, laugh about the silly times, and get emotional about the sad ones. We are all human beings on this path. Technology is growing and growing. It is disconnecting us from humanity, but at the same time it is allowing us to connect to the world. It is in these moments I am glad to gather for the holidays. I am glad to be around family, friends, and my readers. We all need to remember what used to matter to us. We need to be thankful for those small moments in our lives we reached out and touched humanity.


MY little brother Liam and I getting ready for another childhood adventure. Mom would take us on road trips so we could have happy memories growing up. PHOTO BY LISA WILLIS

Listen to their stories about the old days, give them hugs, tell them how much they mean to you, and share old photos, because in the end its those human connections that make the most impact in our hearts.


My story started on a cold winters night in 1985. I had a loving mother to keep me safe on the journey ahead. All we can do is brace ourselves for the life we are given, and reach out for all those human connections. PHOTOS BY GRANDMA JEAN


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