Blame the short holiday shopping season and retailers desperate to squeeze money out of that short window. Or maybe we should blame those truly crazy shoppers who pop up tents and roll out sleeping bags as they line up hours or even days before Black Friday sales.

No matter, the reality remains the same: This year, avid Black Friday shoppers must choose between family time around the Thanksgiving table and getting a jump on the greatest sales day of the year.

Black Friday is a holiday tradition for me. My first foray more than a decade ago occurred when my parents went on vacation for Thanksgiving, and I braved a cold November night to buy a $99 television that my mom really, really wanted.

Black Friday shoppers
(Tim Bedison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

The rush of landing that TV while bonding with shoppers in 30-degree weather cemented my newfound holiday tradition. Those were the ideal, golden days of what worked as a great Thanksgiving weekend. Thursdays were spent gorging on turkey and fixings with the family. Then after what amounted to a power nap, I would bundle up in scarf and gloves and venture out into the cold, predawn of Black Friday, ad circulars and hot chocolate in hand.

Six years ago, my stepdaughter, Dana, begged me to take her along. I agreed, certain she would never drag herself from bed at 3 a.m. But she popped right up, quickly made friends in a long line outside Target and came home with three video games that had cost her less than $20.

She was an instant Black Friday convert, and so was born a new family tradition of early morning shopping, followed by breakfast out and a late-morning nap.

Over the years, my sister-in-law and mother have ventured out with us. While they admit the thrill of a great deal is unmatched, neither has wanted a repeat adventure.

Black Friday isn't for everyone.

Now, I'm wondering how much longer it's really for me.

Over the past couple of years, Black Friday has pushed the boundaries of post-Thanksgiving fun. Stores started opening at midnight. Then they officially crept into the night hours on Thanksgiving.

When Kmart decided to open early on Thanksgiving Day with pre-Black Friday deals, I balked. No way were $1 DVDs and inexpensive electronics luring me away from a day of football and turkey with the family. Plus, Kmart was just a renegade -- all those other stores still valued the sanctity of a family holiday.

This year, all of that has changed. One after another, stores have announced plans to open in the evening hours of Thanksgiving. Walmart, Best Buy and Target even have deals scheduled for 6 p.m.

Sure, we could set the turkey to hit the table at 4 o'clock and still make the door openings for those sales, but the magic of Black Friday would be lost.

There was just something special about standing in line with bargain hunters who were willing to forsake sleep -- and warmth -- to save 50, 60, even 75 percent off. It's how I met three generations of women outside Kohl's who hadn't missed a Black Friday since the youngest turned 13 more than a decade earlier. It's how another mom and I plotted to divide and conquer at Toys R Us so we could get both of the coveted items we wanted.

This year, I had my eye on a Big Wheel for my 2-year-old. Dana, now 17, was on the hunt for great deals on clothes.

But neither of us plans to hit the stores until the dinner dishes are cleared and our family has gone home for the night. This year, Black Friday will be strictly about shopping and far less about the thrilling hunt and long-standing traditions.

If we're lucky, maybe next year retailers will show proper respect for Thanksgiving -- not to mention customers and their own employees -- and return Black Friday to Friday, where it belongs.

Contact Ann Tatko-Peterson at atatko@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at twitter.com/atatkopeterson.