I don’t support the colonialist holiday most Americans celebrate today (we only celebrate Lā Kūʻokoʻa in this household), but it would be a mistake to not recognize how lucky I am every day and acknowledge everything I’m thankful for, especially this year when everything is scary and uncertain. I definitely benefit from a great deal of privilege compared to other people around the world, specifically when it comes to health, familial connections, and basic living necessities. This year, one of the main things I’m thankful for is the health and wellbeing of my family and friends. I always write about the ones I love most here and during a time where people are losing their loved ones suddenly and in terrifying ways, I want to recognize just how blessed I am to still be among everyone I care about. I’m lucky to live with my parents and grandparents (rent is extremely expensive all across America and people are being evicted at rapid rates since eviction moratoriums are either expiring or haven’t been put in place) and only a 15 minute drive from my sister. I also have the most amazing group of best friends (Kaiʻolu, Parker, Brandon, and Mikayla) here with whom I’ve been close for 8 or more years. Even throughout the pandemic we’ve found ways to spend time together outside so we can still have fun and enjoy each others’ company. Conor, Parker, and I formed the most fun and hilarious friendship a couple years ago, but we became extremely close last year and I couldn’t be happier with our trio. We used to go out together every other weekend, but now we go on hikes and eat lunch whenever we can. Jonathan and Lo have been my best friends since I started working with them in 2016 and even though I moved back home last year, our friendship has stayed exactly the same. I never worry that we’ll drift apart or we won’t have the same connection over the years because we talk all day long every single day and it’s like I never left. I can’t wait till traveling is safe again because I’ll be in Waco as soon as I can. Since I have to work under capitalism, I’m grateful to have a job where I’m happy 90% of the time and work with people I respect and feel connected to. Last November I was stuck in a working situation where I was miserable every day, had no friends, and felt no interest in the job I was doing. This year though, I love most of my coworkers and know the work we’re doing is important. I’m thankful they’ve taken such an interest in and created lasting friendships with me.
Every year, I think about the people in prisons and jails across America who are locked in cages instead of with their families and the people they love. I can’t imagine how devastating their holiday season (as well as every other day) is when they’re separated from their loved ones. While it’s nice to share everything I’m thankful for today, I also want to draw attention to the different bail funds that help release people from cages like the Hawaii Community Bail Fund because no one belongs in jail, prison, or immigrant detention. I hope we’ll all acknowledge those who are incarcerated, homeless, sick, or living in poverty so we can work with mutual aid groups, bail funds, and small organizations to provide people with what they need to live and thrive. We are all we have and collectively fighting for each other and a better world is what I’m especially thankful for.