blackfriday Have you noticed how the Thanksgiving shopping experience has changed in the last few years?

Until recently, merchants tried to build excitement by keeping the Friday sale prices secret until the Thursday ads appeared in the newspaper. An online cottage industry grew up around early leaks of the sale information, causing WalMart and Target and the other giants to get terribly excited and issue dire threats of lawsuits against anyone daring to publicize their sales. That never really made much sense, actually.

Meanwhile, as online commerce took off, the online retailers tried to create “Cyber Monday” out of whole cloth as a spontaneous shopping explosion for people sitting down in their offices after shopping all weekend in the brick and mortar stores. It was kind of silly and never really caught on.

This year the merchants blustered about early leaks but deep in their hearts they seem to have realized that advance notice of sales might actually be a good thing. It’s easy to find online roundups of the products that will be discounted on Friday.

Some of the online shopping sites have been offering “Black Friday” sales all week, and they promise the deals on Friday will be oh-so-special-golly, since there are a fair number of people who would rather sit at their computer than be crushed to death trying to get a Zhu Zhu Hamster at Toys R Us.

So if you must go shopping on Friday, do your research at the computer ahead of time. This list compiles the best technology deals – computers, notebooks and netbooks, cell phones, cameras, and much more. Here’s an article that will lead you to the Black Friday offerings from Walmart, Target and NewEgg, and this one gathers up the flyers from Sam’s Club, Staples, and a couple of others.

But can I make a suggestion? Stay home. Turn off your computer. Enjoy your family. The weather will be marvelous. Go for a walk. Everything will still be on sale next week, probably for the same prices. Relax. Have a quiet holiday weekend focused on things that are really important instead of fighting for parking spaces and being trampled by crowds.

All my best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!

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