I've lived here four and a half years, and turns out, it's really a small town. And that makes emails like the one I received Friday from Urbana resident Heather Johnson possible. Heather sent me the nicest email about my new-to-me plaid thermos, a gift that came at a really great time for me. 
Here's what she wrote me (and I'd never met or talked to Heather before this, but I'm so glad she emailed). I believe she saw the thermos on The News-Gazette's Facebook page :
"I was amazed to see that thermos on Facebook this morning! As a Scot transplanted to central Illinois, I am always on the lookout for things tartan. I was in Goodwill at the beginning of the week, looking for vases for my daughter's wedding. A thermos, which I am sure was is the one you now treasure, was standing on the top shelf, looking smart and bright against the surrounding dull plastic and chipped glass.
"I picked it up, thinking of my parents' picnic bag with the taped handles and miss-matched melamine cups. Each time I am in Scotland I am complete if I have one picnic, usually in a car with steaming wiindows and the view blurred by rain, dipping digestive biscuits  into piping hot tea.
"But my Scottish thriftiness pushed back, reminding me of my cache of sleek stainless thermoses and I gently placed the plaid thermos back on the shelf. In our short interaction I had appreciated its colour and form and cleanliness, and it in return stirred up memories and feelings that I was not expecting, not in Goodwill.
"So now you know a tiny bit of Tartan Thermos history. May you have a long and happy relationship and enjoy at least one cup of tea in a small scenic spot in Illinois."
Yup, there sure is something special about that thermos. Made my day Friday, and today, too, just reading her email again.
Photo by News-Gazette Photo Editor Darrell Hoemann.