Black Friday now starts on Thursday?

Have you ever gone Black Friday shopping? It’s a completely ridiculous experience.

Eager holiday shoppers line up outside of big-box retailers and wait for hours on end for door-buster discounts on everything from laptops to lollipops. They get in line sometime between Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning. And who knows how long the guy closest to the entrance has been standing there.

Last year, I cruised through the Best Buy parking in San Carlos at about 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. A full eight hours before they open at 4 a.m. on Friday, more than a hundred people were standing or sitting in line, and others were hanging out in their cars. One family was feasting on their Thanksgiving dinner in a van with the door slid open, complete with full table settings.

What’s worse is that those super- mega-door-busting-discounts that everyone wants are usually limited to a small number of coupons, usually between six and 12, and even if a small number of people ahead of you in line hope to purchase the same item, good luck getting a coupon. The store may have more stock of the item, but not at the door-buster price.

Other discounted merchandise gets stacked up at the entrance so it can be snatched up by the horde of shoppers waiting to burst through the door. Unless you’re one of the few up front, the deals you’re going to get can be found just about any other day of the year.

This year, stores like Best Buy, Kohl’s, Gap, Walmart, Toys R Us and Macy’s are opening their doors for Black Friday a little earlier — some as early as 8 p.m. on Thursday. You read that right; they’re opening doors for Friday business on Thursday evening, right after Thanksgiving dinner.

Some employees say they don’t mind working the extra hours because it’s extra money. Others are not too happy. The Chronicle reports that Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee in Omaha, Neb., started a petition on Change.org protesting the chain’s plan to open at midnight on Thanksgiving. It went viral, gathering over 180,000 signatures as of yesterday afternoon, and has spurred dozens of similar petitions addressing other stores.

Valerie Brunmeier of San Jose is not happy that her two sons have to hustle off to a local mall to work their retail jobs after Thanksgiving dinner. “How do you relax when you know you’re heading out the door at 10 p.m. or so to go to work, and work all night long?” she said.

And it gets way uglier than that. Three years ago in Valley Stream, N.Y, a seasonal Walmart employee was trampled to death when a mob of more than 2,000 shoppers became unruly and broke their way through the glass doors. They sent employees flying to the linoleum behind them and chaos ensued. Others were injured in the stampede, including a woman that was  eight months pregnant. According to the New York Times,  the woman sustained a cut on her leg, but finished her shopping before filing the police report.

If you’re sickened by all of this is, I’m with you. I say we preserve whatever Thanksgiving spirit we have in our lives by avoiding commercially driven events like Black Friday altogether. You can save money all year round if you really want to. Why pick Thanksgiving to look like a cheapskate who’s willing to sacrifice time with the family to save a few bucks on their Christmas presents? It’s just not worth it.