Bryan Mahoney

Bryan Mahoney (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer )

There was a tradition in the Mahoney household that involved a lot of sleep after the Thanksgiving meal.

As a card-carrying member of the kids' table, I took this for granted, that one day I would be old like my father, uncles and grandfather who would expend every last bit of energy on the family meal before throwing in the towel.

I lived in a family of slugging Roberto Durans, each of us fighting to pack in one more helping of Mimi's (my grandmother's) pumpkin pie. The couch-cushioned naps that served its epilogue were our "No mas."

The following day, Mimi would disappear with my mother for a few hours while we played in the snow or watched a movie. About a month later, I would discover what they were up to when unwrapping presents under the tree.

They'd be gone a few hours, wait in a couple lines at some stores. The whole thing was civil. Quaint, really, when you think of what the Thanksgiving shopping scene has become — before Black Friday and its recent progeny, Gray Thursday.

"Black Friday," the saying goes, "because only in America do people trample each other exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have."

This Black Friday, I plan to not shop at the big-box stores. There are plenty of other days to do it, and plenty of sales between now and Christmas.

There are better things to do.

For starters, you can head over to the Burbank Rose Parade Float just under the bridge at 123 W. Olive Ave. They need volunteers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to work on the float titled "Lights ... Camera … Action!"

You could set up a time and location with the Burbank Coordinating Council for its food drive on Dec. 7. They're still looking for volunteers to collect food and assemble gift baskets for Burbank families. Email ccholidaybaskets@aol.com or call (818) 843-3699 to sign up.

You could write a letter to a stranger. Donna Ricci, owner of Clockwork Couture at 707 S. Main St., recently started a pen-pal program to cast away the confines of emails and 140-character musings. She is pairing up total strangers to rekindle the lost art of handwritten correspondence — a great activity for an autumn evening with a cup of hot chocolate at your side.

The shop isn't open on Friday, but it will be on Small Business Saturday. This movement is backed by corporate sponsors such as American Express, Facebook and FedEx in a bold display of irony or hypocrisy, depending on your point of view. The end result: A push to get consumers shopping at small businesses that might otherwise be overshadowed by the big advertisements of the big boxes.

And if you absolutely must shop on Friday, there are lots of ways to turn that trip into a benefit for local nonprofits such as the Coordinating Council or Burbank Temporary Aid Center.

Barbara Howell, chief executive of the center, says the organization will need the same types of Thanksgiving fare as it gets into winter. It's accepting donations of turkeys, hams and nonperishable items such as macaroni and cheese mix. You can drop off your donations to them next week at 1304 W. Burbank Blvd.

Besides food, Burbank Temporary Aid Center and the Coordinating Council also collect gift cards for places such as Best Buy to give to older kids and teens — an easy addition to a Black Friday purchase.

The Volunteers of Burbank Animal Shelter also need donations of canned pet food — the shelter is at 1150 N. Victory Place, just across from the Empire Center.

There are lots of ways to be productive with your Black Friday, but before I take on any of these activities, I plan on sleeping in. I've got a tradition to uphold.

BRYAN MAHONEY writes about Burbank neighbors and the place they call home. He can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter at @818NewGuy.