When Barack Obama became US President, First Lady Michelle and he took great efforts to sit and eat as a family. After all, they had two young daughters, who had already experienced the dislocation of having a father who missed meals (due to the demands of serving in the US Senate).
Not only did the First Family bring the rest of the United States into its journey to eat healthy meals, grow vegetables, but also to rediscover the art of eating together.
During this period of extended social distancing, what can we learn from the Obamas? When my daughter was 10 or 11 years of age, during the lengthy and chaotic period of hurricane disaster recovery, my wife and I took signals from the White House. At our daughter’s insistence, we began each evening’s meal with the game of Roses and Thorns.
With the great hibernation in place, give this conversation starter a try in your own household. It helped to center us, just as it did the Obama family. Here is how it works.
Once everyone is seated at the table and begins to enjoy dinner, take turns going around the table to ask that each diner describe something that did not go well today: In other words, a thorn. Sometimes this is something minor, like I could not finish a project that was due or my daughter was disappointed that she was not allowed to do something. It is important to provide structure and social context to discuss difficult matters. No place is better than the dinner table.
Once everyone has a turn, go around and share the good thing that happened today: a rose. Again, these can be big things or the little things that get us through the struggles of everyday life. With so many households opting to live life without the dining table, we lose the opportunity to put good thoughts and bad out into the figurative town square of the household. During times of great stress, this small ritual may bring families closer together, even when social distancing pushes us all apart.
–> This recipe is part of the Meat the Change campaign, carried out to raise awareness among producers and consumers about the environmental impact of meat consumption and production. Find out more here
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