At 4:30 Thursday evening, when many Sonoma County residents were tucking into a second helping of mashed potatoes, Zen?Fenton and her husband, Richard, stood outside Toys R Us on Santa Rosa Avenue waiting to shop for children with disabilities.
Fenton, who works for California Children's Services, a state program for kids with health problems, has bought presents on Black Friday for the past six years. She lamented the fact that the busiest shopping day of the year has crept into Thanksgiving.
"I think it's sad that they are starting to erase Thanksgiving," said Fenton, 43, of Santa Rosa, who was also buying for Toys for Tots. "If it wasn't for the kids, I wouldn't be here."
The Fentons were second in line when the store opened at 5 p.m., and they spent an efficient half-hour loading two carts full of Legos, board games and toy cars before heading home to have a late Thanksgiving dinner.
Others spent much more time waiting in lines and fighting mostly well-behaved crowds hoping to take advantage of offers, such as $79 high-definition TVs, designed to entice shoppers away from Thanksgiving dinners and into stores even earlier than in years past.