Of all our holidays, Thanksgiving should be the most easily celebrated. It's a feast and a prayer. Its name is its purpose, thanks giving.

Of all our holidays, Thanksgiving should be the most easily celebrated. Itís a feast and a prayer. Its name is its purpose, thanks giving.

Somehow, the holiday has become Turkey Day, which is a harmless, lighthearted nickname but a little beside the point. Itís not a day to eat a big turkey. Itís a day to celebrate our freedom and prosperity ó with a meal that involves a big turkey.

In honor of the holiday, Iím taking a break from opining about what is wrong with the world, with our government, and even with our politics. We have a lot for which to be thankful.

Iím thankful to be part of a vigorous and free press that society values and protects. Iím thankful that I can write critically of the president of the United States and the governor of Arkansas, and the worst I could expect would be a phone call from the governorís spokesman, who would be powerless to do anything more.

Iím thankful that my lifetime has seen the dying of communism, a victorious end of the Cold War, and the spread of democracy throughout much of the globe. Iím thankful that millions of people have been lifted from extreme poverty in the last few decades and that populations donít have to live in America or western Europe to be prosperous and free.

Iím thankful that the United States has matured and that doors have been thrown open that once were locked. Iím thankful that a man of African descent has been elected president of the United States. Iím thankful that the person he barely defeated for his partyís nomination was a woman. Iím thankful that those opposing him this year include another woman and another man of African descent, this one nearly his polar opposite in views and background. Ten years ago, Obama vs. Cain could hardly have happened. Fifty years ago it was a distant dream. In 2012, itís one of about four plausible scenarios.

I may get frustrated with the two parties, but Iím thankful, unlike China, North Korea and Cuba, that we have more than one.

Iím thankful that Arkansas has term limits and that the past few years have demonstrated that citizen legislators can do the job responsibly even if they only do it briefly.

Iím thankful that Arkansasí Revenue Stabilization Act helps assure state government has a balanced budget. Iím thankful that Arkansas has had a succession of practical-minded governors and legislators who have obeyed that law in letter and in spirit.

Iím thankful that people still serve on school boards, a time-consuming and mostly thankless responsibility for which they are paid nothing except the satisfaction they get watching graduating seniors receive their diplomas.

Iím thankful that citizens still take the time to vote and serve on juries and that most people obey most laws.

Iím thankful to pay taxes. I would like to pay less of them, but I have been to Somalia, where there is no government and there are no taxes, and trust me, you donít want that.

Iím thankful that the typical Arkansas county has one courthouse and dozens if not hundreds of churches. Iím thankful that if a police officer were to happen upon a Bible study, the pressure would be on him to join and not on the studiers to stop. Thatís not the case in some countries.

Iím thankful that I write this column in a home that I own (well, that I eventually will own) with my loving wife asleep in one bedroom and my two beautiful daughters each asleep in their own rooms ó unless my youngest has migrated to the couch, the hallway floor, or one of the other bedrooms.

Finally, Iím thankful that Stephens Media pays me a little money to write this column and that you readers pay me something far more valuable, your attention, by reading it. Thank you for reading and for responding, even when you call me a turkey or something worse.

ē ē ē

Steve Brawner is an independent journalist in Arkansas. His blog ó Independent Arkansas ó is linked at Arkansasnews.com. His e-mail address is brawnersteve@mac.com.