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Stay safe, be patient, enjoy your shopping

Traditional activities celebrated with family and friends always have made the holiday season special.

That includes the time-honored shopping sprees of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. At one time it was said to be a day that could make or break the holiday season for merchants, as well as shoppers who were eager to snag a particular gift at a very special price. It involved weeks of planning, getting out of bed before the crack of dawn and waiting outside a store until the doors were finally open.

It’s a model, however, that appears to be changing, as retailers and their customers have been rethinking the holiday shopping experience. Holiday deals have been spread out, with more than one national retailer saying it has been offering Black Friday deals for the last month or so. Online purchases are encouraged, and many businesses are offering curbside pickup. That doesn’t eliminate a trip to the store, but it does present an easy alternative to making your way through crowds and waiting in lines — and your packages arrive at your doorstep or are placed directly into your vehicle.

A growing number of retailers have agreed that the Thanksgiving holiday itself is meant to be spent with family and friends and have decided to stay closed that day. That reverses the trend that had seen post-Thanksgiving specials rolled out Thursday afternoon and evening, not too long after the turkey and fixings had been cleared from the table.

Newer shopping dates have been added to the holiday calendar as well. Small Business Saturday, which happens this weekend, is a day set aside to encourage shoppers to patronize the brick-and-mortar stores that line main street and make up the backbone of our local economy. At the other end of the spectrum is Cyber Monday, which has become one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.

However you shop this holiday season, we hope you will keep some simple tips in mind. If you plan to venture out this weekend, remember that the streets around shopping areas will be a little busier, the parking lots more crowded and the lines at the registers a little longer.

Remember the spirit of the Christmas season –peace on Earth, goodwill to your fellow man — and don’t rush displays, push and shove, bully or jostle your fellow shoppers. What kind of a victory is it, we wonder, to have knocked an elderly person out of the way to be first in line?

Don’t be afraid to hold a door open for a fellow shopper or for someone who is trying to navigate a store with a stroller.

Sanitize your hands often, and don’t forget the interior surfaces of your vehicles, including the steering wheel and door handles.

And, remember that sharing a smile or a kind word with a clerk who has faced a never-ending line of not-so-nice customers can make that person — and you — feel a whole lot better. Many businesses continue to face staffing shortages, which puts added stress on those who are working and can lead to longer wait times at the cash register or to secure a table at a restaurant.

Above all, enjoy yourself, and happy shopping.

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