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On your mark, get set, turkey!

The holidays are upon us, and it all starts with Turkey Day next week.

I enjoy Halloween spookiness and all of the joy around Christmas. But Thanksgiving is on a whole other tier for me. It’s a combination of seeing out-of-town family, ridiculously good food and a full day of football that’s guaranteed to have the Cowboys playing.

It’s one of my favorite days despite the cold of November, and it kick starts a marathon of festivities that lasts until the new year. Recent surveys have highlighted how big this year will be for Americans’ budgets nationwide.

For its second consecutive year, LendEDU conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to uncover how much Thanksgiving will cost the average citizen. The survey forecasted the average for Thanksgiving expenses to be $175.55 per person this year, a slight increase compared to last year’s $165.14 average.

According to LendEDU, this average is inflated by extravagant Thanksgiving parties with more than 20 guests and a “smorgasbord” that requires a more generous budget.

But It’s not just about the food. It’s also about travel, like the 50.9 million Americans who drove at least 50 miles away from their homes last Thanksgiving, according to AAA. That was in addition to 4 million that traveled by air and 1.5 million by train.

This is just the beginning for big holiday spenders. On Oct. 24, the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics released its annual survey detailing consumers’ budgetary plans for the holiday season. Based on more than 7,000 surveyed adults, the average consumer will spend $1,007.24 this season, a 4.1-percent increase compared to the $967.13 average from last year’s survey.

“The holidays are just around the corner, and consumers are ready to shop,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay stated in the press release. “Confidence is near an all-time high, unemployment is the lowest we’ve seen in decades and take-home wages are up. All of that is reflected in consumers’ buying plans.”

This will come to a head when the sun rises the morning after Thanksgiving, and all the Black Friday shoppers start to feed their cravings for deals, as opposed to cranberry sauce.

According to blackfriday.com, approximately 180 million shoppers are expected to take advantage of the innumerable discounts from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, a jump from last year’s 174-million forecast. The average shopper is expected to spend $340.33 during this sprint.

Much of those fast-paced dollars will be spent online, as $5.8 billion is expected to be spent via online shopping, with the three most popular online stores being Walmart, Amazon and Target, according to blackfriday.com.

“The deals and shopping experience (are) only getting better, and we expect more improvements in 2018,” according to blackfriday.com. “New records will be set during Thanksgiving weekend, and mobile shopping will be more important than ever.”

Buckle in for the holiday season, everyone, and enjoy Turkey Day with peace, good company and minimal family squabbling. Because the real holiday craziness starts when you finish that turkey leg.