Only in America do we celebrate being grateful by trampling each other over sales the next day…

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when most Americans are off work and are lured to shop by retailers offering deep discounts bringing their profit margins favorably “in the black.”

It has become as American as apple pie and every year we are bombarded with the stories of extended hours, endless lines, fights and even deaths. In our week reserved for gratitude, it has become an ironic example of consumerism run amok.

Here’s some suggestions of how to avoid the chaos this year.

1 Be an informed consumer. Where you spend your dollars is the most tangible form of democracy. Do your research. Support mom and pop retailers and avoid the lure of the huge conglomerates. Educate yourself to support retailers that align with your values.

2 Stay at home. Relax and enjoy your holiday. Seriously, this is a time to reflect on all our blessings not to be pigging out and rushing to the stores. Slow down. Take the break that is being offered. Buy ahead of time. Or realize that the sales leading up to Christmas are usually just as good and sometimes even better than the over-advertised sales on that dreaded Friday.

3 Shop on line. Simply shop in a hassle free virtual shopping world where we can spend leisurely and carefully not get sucked into sale frenzy chaos.

4 Give alternatively this Christmas. Maybe this is the year that you give to charity in the name of a relative? Might I suggest a nice donation to Planned Parenthood in your misogynist uncle’s name or to the ACLU for racist Grandpa?

5 Give the gift of travel. Many studies show that experiences not material possessions offer more real happiness. So maybe the family forgoes a bunch of stuff this Christmas for a meaningful vacation to a new place in the world. Horizons are broadened and malls are avoided.

6 Don’t buy into the scarcity consciousness hype. This is fear based thinking based on the notion that there is not enough to go around so I must fight, trample and push to get my share. The more we play along the more real the scarcity consciousness grows

7 Go with a plan. If you cannot resist the Black Friday temptation, have a strategy. Comparison shop. Stay hydrated and for goodness sake, remember where you parked your car.

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