IN RECENT YEARS, Thanksgiving week has become one of the most stressful times of the year.
Not because of turkey. The tryptophan makes us too sleepy to be stressed.
No, the pressure we experience during this week is because of our rush to take advantage of Black Friday sales. Well, wait, it's not really just Friday anymore, since so many retailers are trying to get the jump on the competition. So, let's call it Black Week, or Black Fortnight. Oh, forget it. Let's call November Black Month (no disrespect to February).
None of this is November's fault, of course. It didn't ask to be the month that retailers count on to get them back in the black. It didn't even ask to be the month when we decide to give thanks.
The only thing November wanted was to watch the leaves fall, to play host to strong winds and to poke fun at our unpreparedness for its occasionally overwhelming snowstorms.
Unfortunately, November can't just sit back and chill, because it's got that Thursday holiday that comes a month before Christmas. November has to help us to end the year on a high note.
That's where Black Friday came from. It was an excuse for retailers to foist their products on the rest of us and pretend they were giving us a bargain. More important, Black Friday was a reason for consumers to get out of the house, to walk off the turkey and to spend money foolishly.
For years, it worked out. We toiled until Wednesday, gorged on Thursday, and finished the week off with mall-hopping.
Then, one Black Friday, as we were happily shopping to the strains of Johnny Kemp's "Just Got Paid," it happened. People snapped.
It wasn't their fault. It was the crowds, and the pressure, and the sales, and the brats. Those things, in combination with the drunken Santas, were just too much to bear.
Shoppers began tackling each other at a North Carolina Walmart. They tased each other at Philadelphia's Franklin Mills Mall. Grandmothers squared off in the electronics aisle. Dads delivered drop kicks for Legos. The whole world just went crazy.
Since I was never one to roll with crowds of roving cheapskates, I never got caught up in the Black Friday mess. LaVeta didn't, either. But my wife's ability to escape the Black Friday melee wasn't about being crowd averse. LaVeta actually loved being around her fellow Black Friday shoppers. She loved it so much that she was around them every day.
That's right, boys and girls. I'm married to the ultimate Black Friday shopper, because for LaVeta, every day is Black Friday.
She doesn't do her dirt in stores like the rest of those Black Friday suckers. Uh-uh. She does her shopping in the privacy of our own home. By doing so, she has avoided being drop-kicked by wild-eyed suburban moms in the American Girl store. She has dodged the ever-present danger of sumo-wrestling nannies at Toys "R" Us. She has, in many ways, mastered the art of low-risk, high-reward shopping.
Sure, it's annoying when I wake up in the middle of the night and find LaVeta lying there with a ghostly iPad light shining up into her face, as she scrolls through the deals of the day. Yes, it drives me bonkers when I come home and catch her on her laptop with the Nordstrom page front and center. Yes, I get tired of seeing the UPS guy at my door three days out of the week.
But since LaVeta does all our holiday shopping online, I'm not out on Black Friday facing shoppers armed with tasers. Nor am I stuck in the little seat in the corner at Nordstrom's - the one I affectionately call the husband chair.
Yep, I'm just fine with the wife celebrating Black Friday every day, because it means I never have to celebrate it again.