If we top last year's Black Friday madness, I'll be surprised, but then again, 'tis the season for magical moments. With a short work week, I'm writing this early, so by the time this hits the streets, I'll still be exhausted.

There's a big hoopla about folks who have to work on Thanksgiving and it does stink for them, but I'm glad the stores are opening Thursday evening as it's so much easier to just stay up, than to get up at 3 a.m. I'm sure it sounds like I'm setting myself up to be overwhelmed with hoards of shoppers, long lines and sleep deprivation, but I love every minute of it.

We're called the "Black Friday Bandits." It's official, we have red T-shirts with our gang's name printed in green on the front and our last names on the back. This is serious business. Recently my sister and niece gave us all matching Santa hats, trimmed out with cougar print – if that doesn't say serious shopper, I don't know what will.

This is a tactical, strategized shopping adventure. Thanksgiving day is spent going through all of the sales fliers, mapping out where and when we need to be at the store with the best deals. All great plans can and will have a glitch or two, although last year's crisis sent me into a frenzy, which resulted in embarrassment for family members.

We were at a "big box store," and it was nearing midnight. Maybe it was a full moon, maybe not, but you could feel the tension building as we stood in lines that wrapped around the entire outer edge of the store. Carts were full, people were anxious and as the minutes ticked by it was obvious something had gone terribly wrong.

I was far enough back in line I couldn't figure out why some people were going through quickly, paying and leaving the store, while others were getting onto Santa's naughty list by saying mean things to the cashiers, who obviously were wishing they were anywhere but there. After an hour, word finally spread that someone at corporate office had forgotten it was Black Friday and shut down the entire system to purge data. Believe me, there was a lot of purging going on in that store, besides the computer system. We took turns driving across the street, to the convenience store, which is open all night to use the ATM and charge an extra $2.00 to get your money out of it. I really wasn't too stressed out about it all until more and more people started jumping on the naughty list band wagon and making spectacles of themselves. I knew the family wouldn't approve, but it was the last resort, I started singing “Jingle Bells.”

Some just stared, some started singing, but when I sang, "he knows when you've been bad or good," and accidentally pointed at some of the offenders, they clammed up like Rudolph when you make jokes about big noses.

You better watch out, you better not cry - these Black Friday Bandits aren't leaving, they've come here to buy.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com