The Thing That Hasn't BrokenYou killed the 37-year-old Christmas cactus. You managed to be the first person ever to thwart the famous family "No-Fail Snowball Cookies" recipe. But Grandma's crystal gravy boat has not broken. And this year, like every year, you get to (CAREFULLY!) take it down from the top shelf, unwrap it from its womb of bubble wrap, and presto, your instant gravy is ready for its close-up.
ShortcutsAny of them. All of them. The E-ZPass that lets you zoom along the highway without stopping for toll booths, so you can get to the suburban cousins faster than it takes to sing "O'er the hills we go." The TSA PreCheck program, whereby you can actually remain clothed while going through airport security (an especially good idea for when you're traveling with young children who will weep when strangers look at their shoes). Those oven bags that make your turkey cook in under 300 hours. Shortcuts = good. Thx, shortcuts.
ScarvesAnd legitimate scarf weather. And detailed tutorials on how to tie said scarves so that they look effortless and Parisian.
Your Own Personal ZottarelliEvery family has a Lawrence J. Zottarelli. He was the NASA engineer who came out of retirement because he was the only one who knew how to deal with Voyager's antique data-storage system—in other words, he was the only guy in the solar system who knew how to do this one particular thing. Who's the Zottarelli in your life? Maybe your brother is the only person on Earth who can get the stereo in your crappy old car to work. Maybe your best friend is the only woman in the world who cooks green beans you actually enjoy. Maybe your kid is the only human alive who can make the grouchy postman crack a smile. Give thanks to your Zottarelli.
Someone Else's Gingerbread LatteThis is the season of scents, of that crisp, cold air that makes everything smell even better, of those first icy days turning your breath into dreamy little cloud-puffs. And though on most days you may find flavored coffee to be an abomination, on a chilly, late-autumn afternoon there is something exceedingly comforting about a whiff of someone else's fall-themed beverage. Everything allspice, everything nutmeg, everything with the earthy tang of leaves and wool; yes please, now, when winter is still novel.
The New Addition to the Grown-Up TableThanks to her entirely cryptic (according to you) Instagram account, you've noticed that little cousin Lucy is no longer exactly little cousin Lucy. And so, how fun to see her in person at the family gathering, to embrace and realize she's a full head taller than you, to welcome her to sit beside you and to hear the IRL adventures of the almost-all-grown-up (according to her) Lucinda (as she now prefers).
Clementines in CratesEven the most devoted Polar Bear ice-swimmer types might feel a pang of wistfulness—what a friend of mine calls "watermeloncholy"—for the fruity abundance of summer. Until, that is, you get that first juicy, delicious batch of winter citrus.
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