As soon as we pack up the Thanksgiving leftovers, my husband and I spring into full holiday shopping mode. Over the past five years or so, the process has almost become a science for us. We make sure we are pre-armed with all the "Black Friday" sales flyers, and we plan out the day to the minute. We set the alarm for 4 a.m.--sometimes 3:30--just to make sure "supplies last" at the stores where we plan to get the "best deals." In response to hearing friends or family boast during Thanksgiving dinner about how they've already finished their shopping for the season, we exchange glances that only the other understands: "Suckers!"
Retailers have done an excellent job over the years training consumers like Joe and me to think that the really great deals offered throughout the entire calendar year occur only on Black Friday. We shop not only for Christmas presents but also for ourselves. We've made mental--as well as actual--notes during the preceding 11 months of the big-ticket items we're going to get for a song on this one day of the year. Each year, we plan to buy all of our presents on Black Friday, so we can relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday season. Each year, we fail.