Why would anyone want to shop on Thanksgiving Day?

Let’s face it – buying Christmas gifts is work.

Many years ago, some stores started opening at 6 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That is now called Black Friday.

There were only two good reasons to get up that early on a holiday to go shopping. One was if you wanted an item that was in great demand (like Tickle Me Elmo) and the other would be to buy something that was heavily discounted.

I fell for a stupid Black Friday promotion once. A store at Woodland Hills Mall was offering a free $25 gift certificate to the first 300 people in line when the store opened at 6 p.m. You didn’t have to buy anything – just be one of the first 300.

I got up at 5 a.m., threw on some warm clothes and got there about 5:30 a.m. It was really, really cold and there was a long line. I couldn’t judge if there were more or less than 300 shoppers. I stood there for about 45 minutes (they were late opening) and then another 30 minutes – outside the mall in the cold – as people filtered in.

I think I was number 310. I left without buying anything.

Now, stores have gone crazy. Many have a total disregard for Thanksgiving. Everyone used to be closed all day on Thanksgiving. Then some started opening one minute after midnight. Now, they open at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

That is a genuine disservice to most of their customers and all of their employees.

A few years ago, Wal-Mart had some special electronic gadget that was about half price for one hour early on Black Friday. My kids wanted one so I went early to get in line to get one. I was lucky to find a parking spot.

The store was so full of people, you could hardly move without bumping into someone. I went to the electronics section and couldn’t find what I wanted. It thought it had to be there because it was on the front page of the Thanksgiving circular. A clerk said what I wanted was in the garden section. A clerk in the garden department said it was in the electronics section.

I left without buying anything.

During another Thanksgiving, Radio Shack had a great sale on some kind of electronic gadget that my kids wanted. I went to Radio Shack early on Black Friday and they were sold out. I went to a second Radio Shack and they were sold out. They laughed at me at the third Radio Shack.

In the good old days, if a retailer advertised some hot merchandise, they made sure they had a bunch of them to sell.

These days, I don’t get up early to Christmas shop on Black Friday. The traffic is bad, the weather is usually cold and most of the stuff I want will be there at 10 a.m.

And my kids are now grown. When I ask them what they might like for Christmas, they tell me to look up their “wish list” on Amazon.com. I get specific instructions to only purchase approved items from that list.

Sometimes I buy from the list – many times I don’t. If everyone knows exactly what they are getting for Christmas, where is the fun in opening the gifts? I would rather do some investigation and see what people might really like but would never suspect they would get. That’s really a lot of fun.

Sometimes my plan doesn’t work out so well. We taught our kids to be grateful for a gift and even if it is disappointing, try not to criticize it. After all, it is a gift.

I don’t have a wish list on Amazon. I will only drop a hint or two about what I would like for Christmas. Sometimes that works well – sometimes it doesn’t.

I would rather buy several moderately price gifts rather than just one or two pricey gifts. That makes opening the gifts more fun.

And I try to make sure everybody has almost the same number of gifts to open. It is kinda sad to see someone with a tiny stack of gifts sitting on the sofa next to their brother or sister with a huge pile of goodies.

I know this sounds materialistic and it is. But Christmas is such a wonderful family time and seeing loved ones get something they will really enjoy makes me happy. It is better to give than to receive, after all.

We have a new great niece who will arrive in February and our first grandchild should be born in May.

Opening presents on Christmas morning with little kids is great fun. As a soon-to-be grandfather, I am excited about buying neat stuff for “junior.”

But even then, I still am going to sleep in on Black Friday.