The epic shopping season officially begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and a retail group is forecasting a 4.1 percent rise in holiday sales. Retailers are slugging it out with earlier-than-ever opening times many pushing into Thanksgiving Day. The stakes are high. Struggling chains like Sears, Best Buy and J.C. Penney are trying to reverse disappointing sales. But many small retailers around Charlotte count on the holiday season, too. Check out the Observers new Shop Talk section Wednesday for expanded coverage. The Style section will have more coverage Thursday. Ely Portillo
AAA is predicting the number of travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday will be larger than last year, for the fourth year in a row. The company said it expects 43.6 million Americans to travel 50 or more miles this weekend. Thats up significantly from 2008, the lowest year AAA has on record, when only 37.8 million made a trek. The busiest day is expected to be Wednesday. Charlotte Douglas International Airport officials advise arriving early. Parking also could get tight at the airports lots, which contain 25,000 spaces. Check parking.charlotteairport.com for a map of lot openings.
Cooking a frozen turkey? If its 16 pounds, you need to move it to the refrigerator to thaw Monday morning. Place on a tray to catch juices. Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator is the safest method, but it takes about 24 hours for every 4 pounds. If you need to do it faster, you can submerge the turkey (either in its wrapper or in a 2-gallon resealable bag) in a sink of cold water. Check the water every 30 minutes to make sure its cold, and expect it to take 30 minutes per pound, or 8 hours for a 16-pound turkey.
Long before the advent of Christianity, evergreens had a special meaning for people in the winter. As the History Channel explains, people in ancient times hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away evil spirits, and illness. Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we know it. On Thursday, the Observer will publish a guide to local cut-your-own-tree farms. Staff
Charlotte residents will enjoy a slightly warmer Thanksgiving weekend this year, according to the National Weather Service. The high is expected to reach 68 Friday. Although the week will start out with mostly cloudy skies, that cover will clear by Thanksgiving, when the high will reach 64 and the low will be around 40. Elisabeth Arriero
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