The day after Thanksgiving carries the annual distinction of “busiest shopping day of the year.” We ventured out this morning to Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer to take advantage of the massive one- or two-day price drops. In previous years we’ve been caught in the crush of the crowds and the gridlock of the traffic, but it’s hard to resist the pull of a Blade Runner DVD at $3.88, so off we went.

The number of shoppers surprised us, for they all seemed to be missing. Perhaps we were too early or too late, but in the 9 to 10 AM range we found plenty of parking and fairly open aisles. I don’t know if our experience reflected the norm for the city, the state, or the country, but if so, this may be a brutal holiday season for retailers—as if there weren’t reason enough to be pessimistic about the American economy.

It may be that other potential shoppers loaded up on Thanksgiving Day dinner and were simply unable to roll themselves out the door the following morning. Certainly our own celebratory feast at Grandma and Grandpa Davison’s here in Salem could have led to such a scenario. As it turned out, we left enough space between the big 2 PM meal and Bret’s birthday dessert to watch a few episodes off the Arrested Development DVDs, chat, and enjoy Jonah’s entertaining activities. Times like these easily figure in the top 10 things for which I’m thankful.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy Thanksgiving (and surprisingly pleasant shopping experiences)!