Thanksgiving - Related Content

Thankfulness, flaming rolls and the illusion of perfection

Thursday, November 17th 2016 2:30 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Americans are hungry to dine on the tradition of Thanksgiving next week. It’s a race to the table as young and old vie for the seats closest to the food of their dreams. The stuffing. The cranberries. I especially look forward to the fluffy mounds of mashed potatoes and homemade rolls—carbohydrate bliss! While visions of these perfect dishes dance in the heads of guests who’ve arrived, the cook may be fretting over the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes and battling against lumpy gravy. What happens if the turkey is inedibly dry? Should we all go home? In focusing mostly on the beautiful, bountiful food, is the purpose of the gathering lost on idealism and expectation?


Image courtesy

This question conjures one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories: the year my aunt nearly burned the kitchen down. Somewhere in the hurried process of transferring rolls from the oven to a paper grocery bag (in which she put them to keep them warm—do not try this at home!) part of it touched a burner on the stove and a fire broke out. The flames that shot through the kitchen were matched in height only by the screams of those in harm’s way. Logic was lost as my aunt created more oxygen by waving the bag to put out the flames. The fire was eventually extinguished and a gush of relief and laughter took its place. While the rolls were burned—resembling nothing like the golden brown expectation we all had come clamoring for—they were still good. And the heroic effort to put them on the table made them taste even better.

Sometimes in discernment, when visiting different congregations, we carry with us notions of ethereal utopia. (Perhaps sisters in the convent that float through the air rather than walk with their feet on the ground?) Yet observing the real, making those moments matter the most, requires leaving your illusions at the door. Letting go of the idea of perfection can also be freeing as you evaluate your own feelings about who you are and why God calls you to discern religious life. Open your Bible and read the stories of Moses, Jeremiah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Peter and others. God called on the most unlikely people to accomplish great tasks. And each person had to let go of their own perceived weakness to let God lead them to the next steps in their lives.  

When you visit a community, ask the members about their vocation stories and the ups and downs they’ve experienced. Look past the image of a sister you hold in your mind and take in the reality of the person who’s sharing the gift of who they truly are with you. (Click here to "Meet Our FSPA Sisters.") Ask how it is that they seem to remain joyful on the natural roller coaster ride that is life while living as a woman religious. You might find (as they most certainly do) that the deepest spiritual lessons we learn come from the realities that don’t resemble the superlative.  

What expectations do you have about the vocation you’re discerning?  

What illusions do you carry that are holding you back from knowing the truth?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th 2016 9:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

8 Ways To Reduce Food Waste At Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Monday, November 13th 2023 6:00 am

Ways To Reduce Food Waste At Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is often celebrated with a feast that is expansive in gratitude and in the food served as seen in the photo above from TIME magazine. Turkey leftovers are often as valuable as the meal itself! 

In November,  2022, TIME magazine's Emily Barone described the humanitarian and environmental value of reducing food waste all year long.

There’s no better way to give thanks for our food by making sure none of it goes to waste irresponsibly. By wasting less as you plan, prepare, and enjoy the holiday, you’ll reduce the 40% of food that gets wasted in our country. It’s also a great way to build new habits and get your family and friends involved in the issue.

Some advance planning tips from the authors of "Purple Kale Kitchenworks", "Food Waste Feast" and "Perfectly Good Food"” can keep food from being put in the garbage, create great left-overs and help ease the food waste toll on the environment!

1. Get help in estimating how much food you will need to keep your guests full and happy, using the Guestimator from Save the  They provide recipes, too!

2. Choose recipes that “fit” together.  Carefully examine ingredient lists so you can choose recipes that will use up whole vegetables, containers of broth, etc. So, if stuffing calls for one and a half onions, look for a gravy recipe that will use up that other half an onion. Suggested by Ronna Welsh, of Purple Kale Kitchenworks.

3. Plan ahead for “special” ingredients.  If a holiday recipe calls for unique or expensive, ingredients, (like buttermilk, cream, or fresh herbs), the items might not be used up in one dish or fit with any other dish in the meal.  Plan ahead for these ingredients by finding out how to store them for the longest period of time (freezing, canning, drying) or coming up with recipes in which they can be used.

4. Transform extras into (almost-)ready meals.  Take a moment while you’re cooking or packing up leftovers to prep and stash unused items for use later on.  For example: Sauté an onion to use later.  Create an almost-finished soup to freeze.  Have extra broth on hand, since many foods freeze better in liquid.  Put some veggies, shredded cooked turkey and extra fresh herbs in with some stock and freeze in a container or resealable plastic bag. Later, reheat, adjust seasonings and simmer until the flavors are blended; top with cheese, croutons or other leftovers for a quick and easy meal.

5. Don’t trash scraps.  Consider mashing potatoes with the skins on, or toss the peelings with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 375ºF for 15-20 minutes until crisp.  Use the “chips” as a snack or to garnish other dishes. Peelings and trimmings can be reserved for other uses. Homemade stock is an easy way to use vegetable peels and poultry or meat bones.  Stock can be frozen for months to enjoy later.

6. Promote smaller portions.  Guests may be inclined to load up their plates with far more than they’ll actually eat in one sitting. Some hosts set out smaller serving spoons, if the meal will be family-style.

7. Get clever with leftovers.  There are ways other than simply reheating leftovers to transform holiday dishes into new ones. Bake stuffing on a rimmed baking sheet at 375ºF until it’s dry and crisp, then use the new croutons within a week (or freeze for another day). Use stuffing as a base for an egg strata.  Add other leftovers to a good egg frittata. Blend extra mashed potatoes with broth to make creamy potato soup and add garlic or other herbs. Mix or mash together any complementary foods (turkey and mashed potatoes; green beans and stuffing) and use to fill savory hand pies with store-bought pie-crust dough. Wrap “pies” well and freeze.  Later, bake in a 350ºF oven until golden brown.

8. Be generous!  Offer to transfer leftovers from a guest’s plate and/or extras of other dishes that are left for guests who’d like them to be packaged up and taken home.

9. Still have leftover food?  If you fry your turkey, check into cooking oil recycling in your area. The City of La Crosse, for instance, collects cooking oil at Isle La Plume waste collection site.  In the winter months, call the Recycling Department (608-789-7508) to schedule a drop off. Uncooked veggies and vegetable scraps can be composted. Search your city cite for compost options near you or try

If you’re interested in doing more to reduce food waste at home, take a free, 4-week "I Value Food" Challenge"  provided bt "Sustainable America".  You will learn easy ways to waste less food, save money and challenge your friends, if you choose!  They also offer a Toolkit to help with meal planning, shopping, recipes, use of leftovers, food storage, expiration dates and more!

To learn more about food waste and its impact on the planet, visit the USDA Food Waste Facts page. 


Appreciating food and its origins is an aspect of gratitude that can deepen our spirituality at dinner and in every aspect in which food touches our lives.  It is common to offer thanks for the plants, creatures and hands that bring food from farm and forest to table.  Beyond a meaningful mealtime grace, we can make a conscious effort to acknowledge with warmth and courtesy all who serve in food supply jobs from check-out clerks to those who legislate state and federal food policy.  It is a sacred activity to feed the hungry, especially where good food is scarce.

Curiosity about food cultures and where foods originate or exploring a favorite food or cuisine can add to our appreciation of food.  Giving back, sharing meals, wasting less express our appreciation for the gift of food. 

A transformative moment

Thursday, November 16th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Next week marks the beginning of travel for many as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Millions of people will board planes and trains and drive cars to gather with loved ones. Traffic, in one way or another, will most likely frustrate excited travelers dreaming of warmth and comfort once they arrive at their destinations. All of the stress melts away as joyful greetings and mouth-watering aromas greet each weary, nerves-worn-thin traveler finally crossing the threshold. This is the moment many dream of all year.


Image courtesy

Hours of love and care for guests start long before the time of celebration. Ingredients for favorite dishes along with a mix of new recipes are carefully considered as each cook desires to both satisfy and expand the horizons of guests gathered. The festive table beckons each person to linger amidst glowing candlelight as rich fall colors of gold, orange and brown compliment the trays of colorful foods nestled between gleaming, stark-white plates. Beauty intensifies as each person adds the gift of their presence around the table.  

Months of exile from one another fade as thankfulness for the moment grows. New memories are created and traditions of assembling grow deeper roots. Holiness pervades as the blessing initiates not only the beginning of the meal but also conversation laden with rich moments of the year’s harvest of blessings and challenges since last the group congregated. This is a eucharistic moment; bread is broken and life is shared. As we move beyond the static moment to see the mystery, we glimpse the transcendence of life.

Through the eyes of faith, holidays can become an experience of holy days and Thanksgiving highlights, in extraordinary ways, many of the markers of thoughtful discernment.

Gathering: moving outside of your own daily routine to join trusted friends and family and recognizing in new ways God’s activity in your life.
Contemplation: reflecting on blessings and challenges in your life.
Preparation: recognizing what you need in the moment, and also what the road ahead may require.
Beauty: being present to the moment at hand.
Abundance: recognizing that God provides more than we could ever consume.
Awareness: eyes wide open to the needs of others.

Food for thought this week as you prepare for your own pilgrimage to the banquet table …

How is discernment leading you to see beyond the surface meaning of an experience?

What are you thankful for in life and along your discernment journey?

Who will you invite to the table of your life?

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link,, and join the conversation. 

This day of thanks and giving

Thursday, November 23rd 2017 10:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA



Image courtesy

May this day be a time of contemplation as you gather with family and friends and recall the many gifts God has blessed you with throughout the year.

Photo of the Week - Week 10

Wednesday, March 16th 2022 11:02 am

For all of you who have been praying for Carlita, thank you!

Carlita is a young woman of 15 who lives in a poor part of town with her family. Her grandmother lives with the family, is disabled and can't walk, being confined to a bed most of the time. We visited the family the first day that I worked with Sister Yanira and she was at school. She has recently been battling leukemia, but her family was happy with her progress. It was only a few days later that we heard Carlita wasn't feeling well and went to visit her in the hospital.

When we got there, she was in a bed and couldn't stop crying and moaning. It was probably the most difficult thing I have seen here. They were very concerned that she had COVID, especially because she is battling leukemia and it would be a terrible blow. She was in urgent need to get to a larger hospital in Santa Cruz where they could treat her, but there was difficulty getting the approval.

That is when I asked the sisters at St. Rose to pray for her and then after, all of the people who read these reflections.

Praise God she is much better and back at home. She didn't end up having COVID, another thing to be very grateful for!

A great big thank you to everyone who spent a moment or more saying a prayer for her. She is precious with a bright spark of life about her. The miracle that is Carlita is an example and a joy to me. I hope her spirit shows in this photo!

If you would like to be notified when I have new posts, be sure to scroll to the bottom, provide your email address, check the box confirming you are not a robot, click on a few photos to prove it and click Subscribe! You will then receive an email after each new post.

In the spirit of thanksgiving to God

Thursday, November 28th 2019 7:00 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


Gather with gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day.


As we gather around the table in a spirit of thanksgiving to God for the blessings of friends, family, community and food, may we also reach out to those who are separated from loved ones, those who are mourning losses, and those who are homeless or hungry. May we also remember in our prayers of thankfulness all those who have grown, harvested and prepared the food that graces our tables today.

Gathering in gratitude

Thursday, November 22nd 2018 10:00 am
Amy Taylor, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we gather around the table this day, may we call to mind and heart all the reasons to be thankful.

Image courtesy of

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? Connect with to be added to our future premiere list. You’ll receive a sneak peek of our future Show me a sign video premieres

Tour Chapels
Explore our Ministries