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Black Friday just as much about tradition as it is deals for some

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Midnight Friday and I am already fighting amongst other Black Friday shoppers for a deal on blankets. I have gone shopping on Black Friday for 10 years and every year it seems to get a little bit crazier.

With almost all of the major retailers opening at midnight rather than the traditional 4 a.m. Many customers never went to bed after their Thanksgiving feasts, but rather, stayed out all night in search of a deal. And there were many deals to be found, depending on how much time and sanity you were willing to spend.

From bedding to kitchen appliances, retailers rolled out the door buster signs with some major discounts. For instance, a Pyrex storage set, regularly $55, was only $9.99 after a mail-in rebate at Elder Beerman. These and other great sales prompted customers to stand in line for more than two hours to check out, on top of the time spent outside waiting for the store to open.

Electronics, as always, were the top searched-for items. Best Buy and Sears both pushed their dirt-cheap LCD and LED TVs, while Walmart and Kmart snagged customers with deals on game consoles. These sales even prompted a woman at a Los Angeles Walmart to pepper spray other customers over a skid of Xbox consoles.

Yes, the fights. Every year someone manages to start a riot over Furby’s or Wii’s. The Christmas season just isn’t complete until a mom breaks a tooth attempting to get a Tickle Me Elmo.

2011 was no exception. Shots were fired in mall parking lots on the east and west coast. There were reported robberies and muggings over Black Friday items, and countless scuffles inside stores such as Target and Walmart.

These fights fuel people to ask “Why?” From the outside it makes no sense to put yourself in such a potentially dangerous position just to score a few deals.

But for those of us who treat Black Friday like a religious holiday, it makes perfect sense.

In many families, including mine, it is a tradition more important than Thanksgiving. While everyone else is in a tryptophan haze or playing football, my mother, aunts, grandmothers and assorted others and I are searching through the ads and making a game plan.

We wake early and dress in Christmas-themed sweaters and hats, and I know we’re not alone. Just this year I saw two families, both with matching T-shirts with slogans such as “Black Friday shopper since 1992” and their names on the back. These serve not only to show that they are a seasoned veteran of the biggest sales day of the year. They also aid in finding relatives in the flurry of people.

I don’t know why, but there is something special about standing in line for an hour, searching for a parking spot, and cussing out line jumpers (you know who you are).

So while this year proved just as crazy as those previous, and maybe more so because of midnight openings, the final numbers will show how willing people are to venture out into the madness, whether it be for a deal or because of tradition, on Black Friday.  

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