Thankfully, the nightmare that is Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving that is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the Christmas season — is over for this year. I say "nightmare" because anyone who's actually braved shopping on that day has found it to be a lot like participating in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, except that instead of trying not to be trampled by a herd of large bovines, you try not to be trampled by a herd of crazed shoppers looking for good deals.
Still, there's a lot of gift-buying that remains to be done as December approaches. As a public safety message of sorts, I humbly present this list of helpful hints to survive the rampant consumerism that is the modern day shopping experience:
When purchasing a Christmas tree — real or artificial — keep in mind the dimensions of your home. The fact of the matter is you probably don't live in an uber-spacious mansion, so refrain from buying a tree the size of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
If you’ve ever been in a retail establishment full of crazed holiday shoppers, you know how dangerous it can be. You’ll want to warm up, stretch and tape up before you hit the stores. Also, don’t forget your knee pads, elbow pads and helmet.
You’ve got a better chance of finding a photo of Norman Rockwell striking a child than you do of finding a parking space at most retail outlets. Consider parachuting in.
Please don’t drink and shop. If you must consume alcohol in order to numb yourself to the horrors of the holiday shopping experience, remember to bring along a designated shopper.
If at all possible, avoid purchasing electronic equipment like smartphones and laptops, because by Christmas Day they will be obsolete.
It pays to be aware of your positioning in the store. You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of finding yourself obstructing the season’s hottest toy from a desperate parent — that’s like coming between a mother bear and her cubs.
Try not to think about the fact that no matter what you buy, it will be on sale the day after Christmas.
Surreptitious use of a stun gun is an effective way of reducing the number of people waiting in line ahead of you to pay for merchandise.
If you are of the male gender, there is a 99 percent chance that you weren’t born with what scientists call the “gift wrapping" gene, so don’t even try. Sure, it costs a little more to utilize a store’s gift wrapping service, but it's worth it; nobody likes getting a present that looks like it was wrapped by a spastic orangutan.
Finally, don’t wait until the morning of Dec. 25 to do your shopping, when the only stores open are 7-Eleven, Circle K and the like. Beef jerky, gum, motor oil and cigarettes do not make great Christmas presents.