1) cell phones. Okay, I know they can be annoying. People walk around with their phones glued to their ears— or worse, they walk alone and talk and wave their arms, with no visible phone, and you think they're crazy until you see the cyborg blue light on the side of their heads. But when you have to pick someone up at the airport, a cell phone makes making connections much, much easier. And I don't know how my mother ever let me go off to college with no text messaging.
2) microwave ovens. When I was teaching school and lived alone, I hated having a high pan-to-plate ratio, so I would cook one thing— a can of chili, a box of mac and cheese, etc. With a microwave, you can cook in the serving bowl. It's nice not to have to give up vegetables now that we have a mostly empty nest.
3) grocery stores that let you push your cart to the car. Believe it or not, stores in my area used to put up barriers so you couldn't remove the cart for the "loading area" around the door. Since my store took the barriers down, I have not once driven home without my groceries (Hey, when I plot a novel, I immerse myself in the story. It's a good thing I don't smoke).
4) my Kindle. I love having an eReader because I can read more often. I had to rush the dog (above) to the vet. He is OK, but it runs out he has arthritis. While I was waiting for the x-rays, I got through a whole short story in the January Asimov's because I always have my Kindle in my purse.
5) my critique group. I am so lucky to have fellow writers and critiquers to turn to for feedback, advice, and moral support. When I talk to folks at conventions who write but have no source of feedback, I realize how lucky I am.
So, let me be the first to ask you this year, what are you thankful for?