Thanksgiving is behind us, but all the shopping and preparation was just the warm-up for December, the most wonderful time of the year to some, and for many, the busiest.
The cycle of consumerism that began on Black Friday continues with Cyber Monday, when online merchants target bargain hunters. Check in with CNN.com for updates on "e-tail" traffic, the hottest items, tips for shopping safely online and unexpected Cyber Monday madness.
The holiday season begins in earnest this week with Christmas tree lightings across the country, including at New York's Rockefeller Center on Tuesday. Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, kicks off Wednesday afternoon with latkes and dreidels for all at the lighting of the National Menorah in Washington, D.C.
December may not be the ideal time for donning Speedos and running through the streets of Chicago, but that's not going to stop participants in Saturday's Santa Speedo Run. Normal clothes are acceptable, the event's website says, but probably not preferred.
The eyes of the world will be on the Korean peninsula this week as South Korea and the United States continue joint military exercises, which have already prompted a furious response from North Korea. The divided peninsula - tense at the best of times - has been near the boiling point since Tuesday, when four people died in a North Korean artillery barrage that targeted the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. Since then, the two countries have exchanged heated accusations and threats. Most recently, South Korea's president vowed to "firmly" respond to provocations from North Korea, urging the public to trust and support its government.
It'll be a busy week in Washington and CNN Politics will have the latest as the lame-duck Congress returns on Monday to a daunting agenda of economic issues, such as whether to extend unemployment insurance and the Bush tax cuts, among other matters. President Obama's federal deficit commission meets this week to vote on a set of recommendations for reducing the federal deficit. The commission's chairmen sparked an uproar when they released a draft earlier this month of a wide-ranging set of proposals over the next decade.
Wednesday also marks the release of two reports heavy on numbers: the Beige Book, which summarizes current U.S. economic conditions by Federal Reserve Districts; and the Fiscal Survey of States, by the National Governors' Association and the Association of State Budget Officers.
December 1 is also the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks' famous act of civil disobedience. The black seamstress was on her way to work in Montgomery, Alabama, when she refused to give up her seat for a white man, catalyzing the civil rights movement and catapulting her into the role of activist and historical figure.
The Senate Armed Service Committee is scheduled to hold two days of hearings Thursday and Friday on the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy for homosexuals serving in the military. Before then, a Pentagon report on the policy will be released to the public on Tuesday.
In global forum news, the United Nations Climate Change Conference begins Monday in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss future commitments for industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol after the current version expires in 2012. Demonstrations on climate change are planned for a global day of action on December 4.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will hold a forum in Paris, France, Monday and Tuesday on agricultural development and poverty and food insecurity.
Expect plenty of pomp and circumstance when this year's Kennedy Center honorees are celebrated Sunday. Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey will meet with the president and the first lady early Sunday before the evening gala.
Perhaps the most anticipated news of the week will come out of Switzerland on Thursday, when the FIFA Executive Committee will announce the 2018 and 2022 hosts of the soccer World Cup. On Wednesday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, honorary chairman of the USA Bid Committee, will travel to Zurich to make the case on behalf of the United States’ bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
In the world of American college football, participants in the Sugar, Rose, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls will be announced Saturday.
And, in other important, highly anticipated news, this year's Grammy nominees will be announced in a prime-time broadcast on Wednesday, and CNN Entertainment will have the inside scoop. The line-up for the Grammy Nominations Concert Live include Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and B.o.B. Hosted by actor/rapper LL Cool J, the show marks the third year in which the Grammy nominations will be announced in a prime-time broadcast.
Get ready Twi-hards! The Twilight Saga: Eclipse DVD/Blu-ray is due out Saturday, a release that will hold fans over until the release of the next installment of the franchise, “Breaking Dawn,” in November 2011.
This week on CNN Health, meet Jake Glaser, who has lived with HIV for 26 years. He has worked tirelessly to increase awareness, fight the stigma of pediatric HIV and prevent the spread of the disease.
In the world of crime and justice, an Oklahoma judge is scheduled to decide on Monday whether a voter-approved measure banning Sharia law in court cases should be kept out of the constitution. In Missouri, St. Charles County is expected vote the same day on whether to bar protesters from funerals. The Supreme Court is currently considering the issue in Snyder v. Phelps, a lawsuit against the Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church.
A look back at news in the past week:
The highs and lows of Black Friday madness dominated headlines the day after Thanksgiving. Among notable events: Apple cuts the iPad price to $458 in a rare move, and a thief steals merchandise from a woman's car minutes after she bought it.
Tensions between the Koreas remained high Friday as China appeared to criticize the U.S.-South Korean military exercise set to begin Sunday in the Yellow Sea.
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to save room for sex.
For three boys from the Tokelau Islands the word miracle has a whole new meaning. They had been missing for 50 days and presumed dead when a tuna boat found them drifting in the Pacific.
A bit actor who appeared on ABC's "Ugly Betty" series was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon after police said they found him wielding a 3-foot long sword near the body of his dead mother.
Hours after North Korea's deadly artillery attacks Tuesday, South Korea's president said "enormous retaliation" is needed to stop Pyongyang's incitement, but international diplomats urgently appealed for restraint.
Britain's Prince William will marry Kate Middleton on Friday April 29, at Westminster Abbey in London, the royal family said Tuesday, ending a week of speculation about the date and venue.
As the backlash against airline passenger pat downs intensified with a viral online video, the nation's top airline security official said Monday that his agency is walking a fine line between privacy concerns and public safety.