Black Friday has come

First off let us thank you, loyal reader, for taking a few minutes out of your shopping schedule today to read these words. After all, with each passing year Thanksgiving in the U.S. is beginning to feel more and more like Black Friday Eve.

As you prepare to head out and hit the stores – if you're not one of those more traditional souls who prefers to spend this day relaxing at home and giving just a little more thanks – let us offer just a few quick words of advice.

Be polite. Yes, you want to save money on clothing, toys and other items. But that doesn't give you permission to knock other shoppers down and climb over their prone bodies to get to the store shelves. (Don't kid yourself. That does happen.)

And remember that tomorrow is Small Business Saturday – a great opportunity to support local entrepreneurs, pump some of that holiday money into the Hampton Roads economy, and maybe just find some distinctive items that aren't available at the chain stores.

Speaking of shopping discounts …

The Military Times reports that the Department of Defense is considering the possibility of closing all of its commissaries on stateside military bases.

Maybe it's just a bluff in the ongoing task of making budget cuts, or perhaps the idea falls under the category of considering all possible ways to find the $50 billion in cuts required by sequestration. It takes $1.4 billion per year in tax dollars to operate 247 military commissaries – stores that sell groceries and other dry goods to active and retired military families for discounts estimated at about 30 percent.

Obviously, $1.4 billion is a lot of money. But the availability of commissary discounts is, in effect, a part of the compensation package given to the men and women who protect our country. Starting salaries in our military are below $20,000. Closing the commissaries, and making our servicemembers pay full price for all of their groceries, would amount to a fairly substantial pay cut.

This probably isn't going to happen. Even if the Pentagon signs off on the plan, it would have to get through Congress and the White House, neither of which is especially eager to hit our servicemembers in the wallet.

Two local base stores – at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton – are among the 10 busiest commissaries in the United States. Perhaps there could be a way to save money by consolidating commissaries; in areas with heavy military population such as ours, it might be feasible to operate one centrally located "super-commissary," rather than individual stores on each installation.

But let's not talk about shutting down the commissary system entirely. The men and women of our armed forces earn those discounts every day with the sacrifices they make for our country.

A (relatively) dry season

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends on Sunday, which means we are going to make it through this year without any really big storms hitting the Hampton Roads area.

We're not sure whom to thank for that, but we are grateful.

If you want to start planning ahead, here are the names for next year's Atlantic storms: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

Roses and thorns

Each week, the Daily Press Editorial Board offers a list of area citizens or institutions deserving of "roses" or "thorns."

This week's roses go to:

Everyone who has to work today rather than enjoy an extended holiday weekend. Especially the police, firefighters, hospital staffs and other workers who look out for us every day.

Ferguson Enterprises, for its $100,000 grant to Colonial Williamsburg to fund field trips for more than 5,000 fourth-grade students from all around the Peninsula.

Dominion Virginia Power, for lowering its rates after discontinuing three management programs. A typical customer is expected to save $3.70 per month – not exactly a windfall, but still, it's nice to see your utility bills go down.

This week's thorns go to:

Old Dominion football coach Bobby Wilder, for asking that the fourth quarter be shortened in last weekend's 80-20 loss to North Carolina. Rout or no rout, you need to finish the game.

The Virginia Port Authority, which projected a $1.7 million profit for the first four months of the new fiscal year but instead ended up losing $4.8 million. The explanation: Budgeting errors, as well as some discounts given to large-volume customers.