The temperatures are finally dropping and the leaves are changing colors. The cool, crisp air lets me know my favorite time of year has arrived. I've been to the apple orchard, gone on a hay ride, and put out Halloween decorations at home. But through all of it I'm really thinking ahead the best holiday of the year. I'm thinking about Thanksgiving. People ask me why Thanksgiving is so dear to my heart; after all, there are no presents like on birthdays or Christmas, there are no costumes like on Halloween, and there are no cute characters such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to take pictures with.

To me, Thanksgiving comes with a deeper meaning. For me, it is about my family. It is about gratitude and it is about giving back. Thanksgiving in my family is not just an evening meal. It is a full day - from a breakfast of pumpkin bread all the way through to the pie after dinner. It is one day where we spend real time together; not playing with our phones or watching TV (other than a football game or two) but talking and laughing and really being together. For that reason, it has saddened me the last few years as I have watched black Friday creeping from Friday morning to Thursday night and now to Thursday afternoon. We are giving up a time of gratitude and turning it into aggressive shopping and bargain hunting.

That change in our society has led to the start of a new movement, Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday doesn't interfere with our holiday shopping on Black Friday, patronizing local merchants on Small Business Saturday or shopping online during Cyber Monday. It just allows us to end those days by putting aside the "me, me, me" mentality and thinking of others. We think of people who struggle just to get through the day and we think of the organizations that pave the way, making each day just a little bit easier for under served populations.

Over the past several years, people have taken to social media to fundraise and promote giving, posting pictures of themselves on Giving Tuesday, even using the hashtag Unselfie. This year NAMI Metro Suburban will be participating in Giving Tuesday with social media fundraisers and donation campaigns. We hope you will take the time to count your blessings and give to help others who deserve to be just as blessed.

With 1 in 5 people living with a mental illness in our country, we are all affected, whether directly or indirectly. That is why NAMI Metro Suburban works so hard to improve our communities, through early intervention, education, advocacy and support. Please like our page on Facebook, continue to read our weekly newsletters, keep watch for our hashtag, #GiveHope, and keep us in mind as Giving Tuesday approaches (only 45 days).

More to come...

Written by Nikki Rashes​