Unless you've been living in a wifi and passer-by free zone for the last week, it won't have escaped your notice that Black Friday is back, and it's bigger and better than ever before.

Still, as we pile our real and virtual carts high, ready to shower our nearest and dearest come Christmas day, I can't help but wonder if the spirit of Christmas has been lost, kicking and screaming along the way.

Deals, deals, deals

No doubt Black Friday is the time and place for scooping a bargain in the run-up to Christmas. In fact, if you're shopping with some of the biggest names, you might have already missed the boat, as retailers like Argos and Amazon's sales have already begun.

If you're the penny-pinching parent of tech-loving kids or even a fully grown other-half, Black Friday deals can save you up to £50 on everything from tablets to Xbox game bundles.

What's more, with the overwhelming majority of shopping taking place online, November 24 looks set to be less chaotic than in previous years, at least where store aisles are concerned.

The dark side of Black Friday

So, what's the problem? It might not come as any surprise that the term "Black Friday" was coined by Philadelphia police back in the 1950s - facing a yearly onslaught of shoppers descending on the city after Thanksgiving is hardly an enviable task. And, like all American trends, we Brits seem to have adopted all the worst aspects (I'm looking at the teenagers who go round in hoodies and masks on Halloween).

Far from spreading seasonal goodwill, Black Friday brings out the worst in people. There's now even a "Black Friday Death Count" website. 10 deaths and 105 injuries since 2006 (stampedes, shootings etc). A fairly shocking statistic from a seemingly innocent holiday tradition.

Spiralling out of control

Shoppers may assume they're getting a great deal when they see asking prices slashed by huge sums, but retailers are a savvy bunch and have a knack for convincing shoppers they've bagged a bargain.

It's easy to get sucked into the spending habit, indeed, our Christmas spending has massively increased over the years, with us now splurging an average of £119 on our partners over the festive season.

With expectations for the gifts we give and receive increasing year on year, where do we have to go from here?

The true meaning of Christmas

Christmas is no longer a purely religious festival, and it would be Wrong to treat it as such in our cosmopolitan country. That said, isn't the idea that we've replaced spirituality with mindless spending a little, well, depressing? Christmas is about family, friendship and, er, food.

Last year, despite not quite being a child anymore, I still received a whole host of wonderful gifts, some expensive, some not. My favourite of the bunch? A Slanket (blanket with sleeves) that probably cost £15.99.

When the Black Friday buzz starts to become unbearable, let's remind ourselves what Christmas is all about.