Some residents and businesses will start stringing up the Christmas lights as soon as the Halloween decorations come down, but hardcore shoppers know when their dream season begins.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has become the accepted if unofficial start time of the Christmas rush. It's a huge day for retailers but only the first of a roughly month-long extravaganza.
And thanks to Abe Lincoln, who decreed Thanksgiving a national holiday, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed into law that it should fall on the fourth Thursday in November, and Pope Gregory XIII, who blessed the calendar we use by papal bull, 2012 has the longest possible shopping season.
To explain: With Nov. 1 falling on Thursday, the fourth Thursday and Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, couldn't fall any sooner. And that means there is more time – the most time any year can provide – for shoppers to shop and businesses to reap bounty.
Mayfair Mall, which reaps a large share of that bounty, will be closed on Thanksgiving, but you can bet there will be workers in there stocking shelves and displays: Mayfair will open its doors at 5 a.m. the next day, Nov. 23, aka Black Friday.
From then through Christmas, opening and closing at the mall will begin to vary from the norm, with increasingly long hours as the holiday approaches.
Sunday hours start to extend on Dec. 2, when instead of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the mall will stay open from 11 to 8. December 9 gets another early shopping hour, opening at 10 a.m., and Dec. 16 adds yet another evening hour, going 10 to 9.
Finally, Sunday, Dec. 23 offers a 14-hour shopping spree, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Saturday hours are the least affected; on both Dec. 15 and 22, the mall will open an hour earlier than usual, running 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Weekday hours extend incrementally beginning Dec. 10 through 14, with the usual 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours switched around, expanding by an hour in each direction to 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The final full week before Christmas, Dec. 17 to 21, another morning hour is added, with opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 10 p.m.
Your last chance, Christmas Eve, is Monday, Dec. 24, when the mall will open even earlier, at 8 a.m., but will close down at 6 p.m. and remain closed through Christmas Day.
Lest we forget, there is that other modern tradition of a consumer's Christmas, the day after, when all the stuff you didn't buy before goes on sale. Mayfair Mall will open at 8 a.m. Dec. 26 and close at 9 p.m.
And that will bring an end to the shopping super-season of 2012, a little longer than most for buyers and therefore a hopeful one for businesses needing any help the calendar or anything else can give them to recover from a sluggish economy.
In the aftermath, mall hours will actually shrink slightly on a couple of predictable days. New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, and Jan. 2, Mayfair will be open only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Note: This story refers only to the opening and closing of the main mall. Restaurant, department and specialty store hours may vary and will be updated for major stores and venues with exterior entrances.