by Pete Mazzaccaro

When Black Friday falls you know it’s got to be. Don’t let it fall on me.

Donald Fagen

This week marks the last moment of calm many of us will know in 2012.

After the best meal of the year, Americans everywhere will officially start the holiday shopping season with a daylong bargain binge that has come to be known as Black Friday. It’s a celebration of shopping consisting of long lines for dubious deals and an inevitable rash of Wal-Mart riots and Target tramplings.

You’d think there were enough cautionary tales around to scare us all from ever leaving our homes. But no, the lure of the big sale is too great. People close to me have divulged their irrational fears that a gift, if not bought in November, will disappear from store shelves for good, as if such a thing were really possible in this age of the assembly line. Whole marketing campaigns are riding on holiday product availability, I argue. But it’s no use. The fever is almost upon us.

I’ve used this space to complain about Black Friday before. I don’t dislike the day because it’s a symbol of the commercialization of the holiday season. I think that relationship is not at all causal. It’s more a symptom.

My problem with Black Friday is that it puts an enormous amount of angst at the end of what is really the only true holiday we have left.

Thanksgiving has resisted the marketing putsch that has leveled nearly all of our other big holidays. There are no cards. There are no gifts. There is only food, and, for those who like it, a Detroit Lions football game. There are other get-together holidays that have resisted the market – Memorial Day comes to mind – but none are as big a deal as Thanksgiving.

And those barbecue days are incidental to the holiday theme. The great thing about Thanksgiving is that the meal is the whole point. It’s a reminder that we do have it really good. We’re alive, at a table and not without.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t shop for the holidays. By all means, buy your gifts. I just wish we could wait until all that Turkey has been digested. Is that too much to ask?

So what are some good ways to combat Black Friday? Good question.

For one, you can start by relaxing around the house, continuing the celebration with turkey leftovers. How about a nice turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich?

If relaxing isn’t your thing, start a book or a project. It’s supposed to be nice this week. There are leaves to be raked and porches in need of paint.

After a hard day of work or play, check out the Black Friday Freak-Out at the Venetian Club. It’s an evening of local music and food where you’ll have a good time and enjoy the knowledge that you are not at all likely to be trampled for a wide screen television.

Beyond that, there are also plenty of ways to volunteer. Many local schools are organizing drives not only to aid the local poor but to assist those who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

The point is, there are way too many things that are better to do than hitting the mall this Friday. Give yourself a break and wait till December. It’s the decent thing to do.

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