“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’”

– William A. Ward

Highland County Press columnist and local minister R.D. “Bob” Hottle has expressed the real reason for giving thanks on the fourth Thursday of November. I’ll not attempt to compete with Bob’s weekly column in any given publication – his message is a far better one – but I will share a few of my own reasons for being grateful.

In no particular order, I am thankful for:

• The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who defend our Constitutional rights and maintain our national security each and every day.

• Each and every Thanksgiving and Christmas – two of my favorite holidays. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t bad, either.

• Family, friends and co-workers who (most of the time) ignore my many faults and assorted bad habits.

• A community that continues to support one of the few remaining independent, locally owned and operated newspapers. (Yes, this one.)

• Men and women of honor and integrity who serve in public office. Yes, there are some.

• Readers who alert us to those who are of less integrity who pretend to serve in public office.

• The Founding Fathers who gave us a Republic – if we can keep it – and not a Democracy.

• The Electoral College.

• Term limits.

• Todd Wilkin. A good man. The city will miss his service. And, all things considered, reasonable minds will understandably question the credibility, motives and sanity of the administration’s SSD #3.

• Hillsboro City Council. (It could be worse, you know. Lately, some eyes have almost appeared to be open. That’s a good sign.)

• The Greenfield City Manager. (Ron is always a class act – and it’s not an act.)

• Government officials who attempt to reduce the general bureaucracy instead of adding to it.

• A judicial system that really does seek the truth now and then, and one that would rather let 100 guilty men walk than convict one innocent man.

• Voters who know what’s on the ballot before they show up to vote. Voters who take more than 90 seconds to cast a ballot haven’t done their civic duty by doing their homework. This year, I voted in 30 seconds. And that was not my personal best, nor was it the infamous “No, No, No, R, R, R” method for levies and candidates.

• Summer.

• Warm and mild springs, falls and winters.

• Snow. But only from Dec. 24 until Jan. 2.

• Living in the country.

• Our wood-burning stove on a cold winter’s night.

• A new roof.

• Fishing.

• Actually catching a fish once in a while.

• Baseball.

• Football.

• Egyptians, for perfecting one of the Sumerian’s summertime inventions.

• Cubans, for a similar reason.

• Good books.

• The Good Book.

• Those who actually live by and follow the Good Book.

• Good neighbors.

• Friends who are far more intelligent than I am. (This eliminates no one.) I appreciate their words of wisdom. Thanks, Topper.

• A good memory for some things and no memory for a few other things.

• Music by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen and a few other singers with three names (not counting Junior).

• Learning how to work the “shuffle” feature on my iTunes music. There’s also a “genius shuffle” feature, but let’s not get carried away.

• The members of the Highland County Board of Realtors, whose professional words of support and encouragement to our staff will always be appreciated.

• Cars and trucks that always start.

• David Murphy when they don’t.

• Random callers to the newspaper who ask random questions. This week’s random question: When did Hillsboro become a city? Answer – as near as I can tell: With the 1950 U.S. census when the population was estimated at 5,126, up from the 1940 census of 4,713.

• Not owning a cell phone.

• All of our readers, advertisers and contributing writers and photographers.

• Their patience and understanding when we need it.

• For people in this world like Dana Brown and Joe Thomas, Sr. In case you missed the headlines this week, Brown and Thomas both accomplished something they’d dreamed of for a long time.

Thomas, 55, became the oldest Division I college football player to take the field when he took a handoff and ran for three yards for South Carolina State last Saturday. He is the father of Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas, Jr.

Thomas’ achievement at age 55 reminds me of the old axiom that when you run with the football, sooner or later you’ll get the snot knocked out of you. But you still have to remember how much fun it was to run with the football.

Dana Brown, 60, made his own dream come true when he drove the van that he lived in in Florida to Huntington Beach, Calif. just to surf. On Nov. 6 near the Huntington Beach Pier, he paddled out to catch one last wave. He did.

The Los Angeles Times reported that “As the waves swelled 4 to 6 feet and the sun began to set, he was slammed into one of the pier’s pillars. He died in a hospital four days later.”

Brown’s friend, Racheal Katz, said, “I hope he caught one great wave. He died doing what he loved.”

Nothing wrong with that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.