'Tis the season -- get out and enjoy it

By the Tri-City HeraldNovember 21, 2012 

Two of our favorite pastimes dominate the landscape this week: eating and shopping.

While it's not that much fun to do the shopping in preparation for all the eating on Thanksgiving, the good retail therapy comes after the turkey dinner has been consumed with the onset of Black Friday sales.

While the "Friday" label is a misnomer these days as the sales and deals have crept into Thanksgiving Day, we all know the day after Thanksgiving is big business for shoppers and retailers alike. And for the diehards, the onset of sales on Thursday afternoon and evening may be a welcome respite from a house full of overstuffed family and guests.

Seasoned shoppers no doubt have an established game plan and schedule for procuring the best deals to be had. In theory, these folks are shopping for gifts for others and just trying to maximize their dollars with the finest bargains of the season. But who can resist the lure of a 32-inch flat screen television for $148 or a $279 laptop as a personal treat?

For those of you who are yammering because we left football off of the list of our favorite things to do this week, Black Friday shopping -- yes, we're still going to call it that for lack of a better two-day term -- is a sport unto itself. People strategize and plan. Caffeine and energy drinks provide stamina. Teams form and divide to conquer. Minutes cannot be wasted en route to the goal. And sweet victory is delivered with the elusive best buy on the hot item of the season.

We even know some who have their spouses leave an empty car mid-morning at the mall and take home the car filled with the bargains already procured. Some folks can knock out all of their Christmas shopping in just one day, and for that determination alone we admire them.

On the heels of Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday. It's a good reminder that plenty of locally owned businesses are just as deserving of our holiday dollars as the big guys. More personal and unique gifts can often be found at smaller businesses. Most of us have that hard to shop for person on our lists. Or the person who seemingly has everything. Often, those challenges can be conquered by shopping at smaller businesses with more distinct offerings than the mass market retailers.

It is the season for giving and all that goes with it, including the thrill of the chase in finding just the right gifts for those on your shopping list. This should be a fun time, spent with family and friends. And remembering it's the thought that counts, and there really is no better gift than to give of your time.

With all that in mind, we offer a few reminders:

* Don't spend what you don't have.

* Be kind and courteous to your fellow shoppers and especially to those working behind the counter. It's a good time to remember the Golden Rule and put it to practice.

* Be mindful of your surroundings. Watch out for folks darting through parking lots. People are excited and distracted so extra caution is paramount.

* Stow your valuable purchases out of sight.

The holiday season is upon us. We've been ignoring the holiday decorations that have been on store shelves since August, but now that Thanksgiving is here, it's legit. People look forward to this time of year. They open their hearts and pocketbooks for family, friends and those less fortunate.

For the Scrooges among us, lighten up and have some fun. It's the start of a magical time of year.

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