By Diane Ako
Every year since I moved back to Hawaii, I've been spending Thanksgiving at my dad's sister's house. After my uncle died, my aunt ceded responsibility to her daughter's family, while I added a family of my own. Around the same time, my parents moved back to this state. Now we unload a carful of five Akos.
My cousin, meanwhile, opens her home to all kinds of "orphans" - transplants without families, new divorcees, college kids, couples who gravitate to a large family-type gathering - so at times, the dinners bloat to two dozen or more. She generously tells me to bring "whomever," so some years I come with more friends.
I always look forward to this time. I think of my cousin like a sister, yet I don't spend nearly enough time throughout the year with her. (Nope, not Cousin Val. Large Chinese family, remember?)
As we head into another Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my family- besides a supportive extended family, a husband I'm still in love with, a great daughter, loving parents who I see all the time, and the blessing of knowing who my true friends really are.
I asked a few friends for their thoughts, as well.
STACY LOE PARIS, At-home mom, freelance journalist, former KGMB anchor
I am extremely thankful for my loving family. My 7-year old son Cole is the joy of my life. He makes me enjoy being a mother, more than I ever thought possible. And my husband Bill. He is simply the
most amazing man on earth in my eyes. I thank God every day that we managed to find each other. I have two adult stepchildren whom I also adore and love as if they were my own.
I am blessed to be living in Hawaii and be surrounded by wonderful and caring friends who love me despite my flaws.
I'm also thankful to be living a lower-stressed life as a freelance writer and producer. It affords me the flexibility to work from home most of the time and be free to pick up my son after school and spend quality time together. There is nowhere else I would rather be at this point in my life.
After almost 20 years in the news business, I am thoroughly enjoying a slower pace which allows me to focus on being a hands-on mom. It's a job that won't make me rich, but which gives me the greatest joy I have ever known.
OLENA HEU, KHON Wake Up 2Day anchor
I am so very thankful for my friends because they are my family and have supported me all of my life... and I am so blessed to have found my love, my best friend and my soul mate in my husband.
...What are you thankful for?
Also reach me via DianeAko.com