Yesterday’s 65-degree weather notwithstanding, it’s almost time for Thanksgiving. So in a rare flash of optimism and goodwill, I thought I’d think quickly about what I’m thankful for.  Now of course I am grateful for my family, my relatively decent job, and my friends both new and old, near and far.

I’m glad I have shelter (that is lovelier than I deserve) and nightly food and drink. A closetful of clothes, warm snow boots, ample toothpaste, and all of that stuff that most people I know have without worry and take for granted.

But this list isn’t about all of those super-important things.  It’s about the little things in life I wouldn’t want to live without.  Here are the first 12 of many that crossed my mind.

12. Amazon prime. This was a “free trial” that I forgot to cancel but I have been rewarded by this flash of irresponsibility.  80 bucks a year gets us free two-day shipping on every order?  Such a deal. Comes in handy, well, almost always, but especially when a birthday gift is in danger of being late.

11. The Whole Foods deli. We are fortunate enough to have three grocery stores in walking distance.  The closest of these is Whole Foods, which is all of two blocks northeast. And although I love cooking, it’s nice to know that mere minutes away, is a truly amazing deli.  Six kinds of New York-style pizza, dozens of prepared salads, BBQ’d chicken breasts, enormous panini, sushi rolls. A great shortcut that doesn’t inspire too much guilt.

10. My new Muppets water bottle. Just as I was grieving (unnecessarily!) over my missing pig mug, this cheerful little number came my way via my friend Amy Kaye, who was blinded by its cuteness and bought it despite never using a water bottle.  She sent it my way and as I do use a water bottle, it’s been with me seven days a week ever since.

9. Ultra-fine Sharpies. Something about these guys seems hipper than a pen.  They come in a rainbow of colors, they glide across notebooks and plastic with ease and precision, and they hold their ink for a while, even if mistakenly left uncapped on one’s desk. Hypothetically.

8. Liquid liner. If my grooming routine has one standard, it’s liquid liner. Just like, well, an ultra-fine Sharpie, liquid liner is precise and longer-lasting than its pencil counterpart. I’ve tried MAC, Sephora, and L’oreal but always return to my favorite, simple ole Maybelline. I line just the top of my eyes for my “daytime” (office) look and the lower when I’m feeling particularly festive.

7. “Mexican” Coke. Not the most politically correct name, this is what folks have been calling the Coca-Cola Classic that comes (presumably from across the border) in glass bottles. Not only does this have a little Gods Must Be Crazy appeal, but it contains real old-fashioned sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.  I don’t know whether it is this fact or the glass, but it totally tastes better.  Here in Chicago, you can get it at Costco, local grocery stores (though not Whole Foods), and even the point-of-purchase display at Home Depot.

6. Amish cheese. Just a few blocks away from my work is this cheese shopp(e) and bakery run by so-called Amish folks from Indiana.  I say “so-called” because I’m a bit confused how their business can contain an electronic credit-card reader and refrigerator cases.  I haven’t done my proper research, but what I do know is that the folks are friendly, the prices are low, and the various cheese they churn is simple yet delicious.  They basically start with Cheddar or Jack and blend in flavors, be it horseradish, chipotle, garlic, etc. Nothing is better with Triscuits on a Sunday afternoon or with cocktails in the evening.

5. The public library. What an amazing invention. You go to a building, find a book you want to read or a movie you want to see, and they will let you borrow it, free of charge, for weeks at a time. The combination of the library and the Internet makes things even easier and better – you tell them what you want and they pull it off the shelf and HOLD it for you.  Dewey Decimal what?!  In this age of Kindles and Netflix and instant gratification, let’s not lose sight of this great resource.

4. Food Network magazine. Each month, this magazine contains a wealth of riches.  It’s a treasure trove of recipes, both simple and complex, cooking tips, and profiles of Food Network “celebs.”  Every month there is also a pull-out booklet with 50 things – 50 pizzas, dips, burgers, etc. I look forward to the new issue greatly and save them for Sunday afternoons, when I go through it with scissors to add recipes to my ever-growing binder of culinary goodness.

3. Facebook. Okay, so it steals our personal information and is ruining the youth of America and Mark Zuckerberg is sort of a cock.  But it is also a great way to keep in touch with a wide slew of people, to bond over common interests, to re-connect with lost friends, and to solicit advice or recommendations.  The only reason Facebook isn’t number one on this list?  It’s a bit of a time-sucker.

2. The Howard Stern Show. In the past five years since he’s been on Sirius, I doubt a day has gone by that I haven’t heard at least a few minutes of Howard and crew.  I’ve been a fan of Howard, Robin, Fred, Gary/Baba Booey, and the rest of the rotating cast of wacky characters since my first year out of college and will defend this allegiance forever. He’s so much more than shocking opinion and “strippers” – the show is thoughtful, relevant, and always inventive. Please renew your contract, Howard!  Hey now!

1. BYOB restaurants. What an amazing thing.  “Come to our restaurant, enjoy amazing food, be waited on, and bring your own booze.” It saves more money than you’d think to find a BYOB location and the selection in Chicago is phenomenal. Sushi. Thai. Italian. Moroccan. Cuban. Ethiopian. Mexican. Upscale New American. If there is a cuisine, there is likely a Chicago-area BYOB, and it’s likely tasty, to boot.  We probably eat at BYOB restaurants about 80% of the time. God forbid we ever move to a city where this trend isn’t prevalent – what would I do with all of my padded wine totes?

What little things in life make you give thanks?