The Lab: A Simple Game to Rekindle Your Dinner Conversation

Apr 12, 2020

Rose, Bud, Thorn is a nightly conversation game I learned as a summer camp counselor years ago. Surprisingly, it has become a big hit here in Commune Topanga quarantine. Every night Jeff and Schuyler’s daughters insist we play — maybe because they want to head off any talk of statistics and politics, but, I have come to suspect, because they crave the healing hidden in the game.

Here’s how it works: Each person shares their Rose, Bud, and Thorn for the day. The more specific the better.

Your Rose is something positive, an opportunity for us to collectively rejoice in your success or relive a happy moment. Recent examples of family Roses include:

  • “Today we picked a bag of oranges on a neighborhood walk."

  • “I got a good grade on my school essay."

  • “How sweet it is that we sit down for dinner as a family every night these days."

Your Bud is either something that shows promise and/or something bittersweet. This how we know what you’re working on so we can encourage you in the days ahead. Recent examples of family Buds include:

  • "I’m relearning to bake bread… with a few mistakes."

  • "I’m choreographing a dance for my sister, even though she doesn’t stay on the music."

  • "I have been working on a fantastic show tunes playlist for dishwashing tonight."

Your Thorn is a challenge, frustration, or sadness. This is your opportunity for a bit of cathartic group therapy and to lean into our collective support. Recent examples of family Thorns include:

  • "I found a rat’s nest under the BBQ and had to clean it out."

  • “I really miss my school friends.”

  • “I’m worried about my partner working at the hospital.”

Rose = Gratitude

Bud = Hope

Thorn = Support

Can you start to see the simple beauty here? Everyone has a chance to speak. Everyone is heard. Our struggles and joys marked for the day.

I hope you have a chance to try this at home or virtually, with family or friends. Let us know how it goes in the comments below.

Drawing credits to Phoebe and Micah!

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