Things that bring us delight and comfort

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This week, Lisa writes about how our favorite things are often unexpected.

I came across a magazine lately that had devoted its November issue to the topic of luxury. And as the holiday (shopping) season kicks into gear, there’s certainly no shortage of luxe and sparkle to covet, online and otherwise.

I have to admit that I’ve spent a fair bit of time in every season combing through the sea of lovely things and picking out my “favorites.” I've made universal wish lists and site-specific wish lists, pin boards and registries. Even as a kid, I remember curling up with holiday catalogs—from the JCPenney's tome to the mail-order cheese and sausages—and circling all of the most decadent and luxurious things.

We often think of luxury in terms of what we don't have. But when I reflect on the favorites and luxuries I already enjoy, I can’t help but wonder at how they defy commercial categories, and sometimes even reason.

There are the unexpected favorites, like the very plain but perfect coffee mug and the threadbare gray t-shirt I can’t let go of, and there are the luxuries that can’t be bought: time, quiet, peace of mind. There are the sensory aspects of things that bring us delight and comfort—the familiar scent of vanilla, the scratchy warmth of a flannel blanket—and then there are the memories and stories they collect over time that give them weight.

As I compare the favorite things I already own with the “favorites” I’d like to own, I can only conclude that luxury is very personal and idiosyncratic. It seems impossible to predict which items (if any) from the list of things I think I’d love will one day join the select ranks of things I can’t live without. — Lisa

Prompted

Last week's dispatch asked, What is your absolutely favorite holiday recording?

Adam wrote:

Favorite holiday recording? I almost rolled my eyes at such an impossible question. I grew up in a home that cherished Christmas music more than any other type. When I got married, my wife had to set a budget for how much I was allowed to buy each year. Every year's holiday listening begins, ends, and is peppered with Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It's simple message, indelible melodies, and straightforward, child-like form make it a complete album for anyone of any age. I'm instantly transported to a snowy lake with big puffy flakes floating to the ground, a spotlighted-stage where a sincere Linus shares what Christmas is all about.

Sasha chose Michael Buble's Holly Jolly Christmas and Coldplay's Christmas Lights

Jess chose Sleeping At Last's Christmas Collection 2012

Sarah chose Robert Downey Jr. performing Joni Mitchell's River

Brian chose a new favorite, Los Straitjackets' Yuletide Beat

Lisa chose Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby

Adam chose Bruce Springsteen's Santa Clause is Comin' to Town

Patty chose Barenaked Ladies' God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings and Jars of Clay's Little Drummer Boy

Adam chose Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas

Amanda chose Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Old City Bar

Brian chose Bing Crosby and David Bowie's Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Uncommon reads

Twitter by Post by Giles Turnbull:

Like all the best ideas, this one popped into life unexpectedly. “How about doing Twitter by post?” I wondered to myself one morning.

The Quiet Ones by Tim Kreider:

It’s impossible to be heard when your whole position is quiet now that all public discourse has become a shouting match. Being an advocate of quiet in our society is as quixotic and ridiculous as being an advocate of beauty or human life or any other unmonetizable commodity.

Your turn

Which of your favorite things would few others understand?