The wheels of commerce are turning earlier than ever this year, with many stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening. However, there's something to be said for time with friends and family. There's also something to be said for good old-fashioned quiet time and reflection.

Here are a few alternative activities individual investors might consider for Thanksgiving and Black Friday instead of shopping till dropping.

5. Strike up discussion
Is Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) doomed to be only a showroom for e-commerce? Is Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) getting Blockbustered to death? What about Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE:HPQ) litany of missteps and mistakes? Is Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) still hip? These are all companies that could be values or value traps, depending upon whether they can turn things around. The people you jostle elbows with at your Thanksgiving feast may have valid, unexpected, or super-informed opinions and insights they'd love to share on companies like these. Take the opportunity to talk to your teen relations about their favorite retailers -- or the ones they think are so uncool. Does someone at your dinner table have expertise in a particular business sector? There's a lot we can learn when many people are together in one place.

4. Due diligence
Caught with some lull time and an Internet connection? The SEC database is always open for business, so you can go and get caught up on recent filings from the companies you own. Meanwhile, you might hit some major investigatory pay dirt, too; SEC filings miner tweeted a reminder that companies often "dump" unpleasant news in SEC filings around the holidays, while so many people are otherwise distracted. The SEC filing feed should be interesting this evening and on Black Friday.

3. Read
Instead of cracking heads over doorbuster sales (just kidding -- I know none of you would do that), consider cracking open a book. There's no shortage of options, and most are available as e-books, too. Need a few ideas? Fools have been busy reading lately, so here are a few recommendations: Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs (see John Reeves' review here) or Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World (see John Maxfield's review here).

2. Take a deep breath; it's not the end of the world
Although the fiscal cliff is serious, it won't be the end of the world as we know it. That makes it a perfect time to look around for some high-quality stocks that have been put on a "fiscal-cliff fire sale." Take Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has recently plunged and now trades at a ridiculously low 10 times forward earnings and sports a PEG ratio of 0.63. Cheap!

1. Love
One of the greatest investments we can make -- one that is difficult to "value" because it is so precious and intangible -- is the time we spend with those we love and care about. Ponder the gifts your loved ones bring to your life beyond all the material things.

Fool on, and happy Thanksgiving.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.