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April 18, 2024

The Smith Family Loves The Saints!

April 18, 2024
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Amy White shares an interview with the Smith Family, dedicated Merry Beggars fans.

Meet Maggie Smith

First, let’s set the scene.

The noises of family life buzz through the air: the dishes being washed, the rumble and tumble of children at play, the discussions over dinner. Little children are sitting at the table drawing; or they’re scrunching their eyebrows over a tough bit of homework; or perhaps they’re stretching their young imaginations, pretending to be noble knights and brave princesses. Through the scene bounds 90-pounds of puppy, a bernedoodle named Loreto.

One of the young Smiths, playing as Saint Patrick

This is a home, the Smith family’s home, tucked away in Wisconsin. It’s a place of love and noise and family.

It’s also a place where one common household object is totally absent: a television.

The Smiths are a “screen-free” family, a decision that parents Maggie and Ethan made before they were married and had their four children.

“It sounds super crazy, but it was one of the best decisions we have ever made,” Maggie said.

Instead of screen-gazing, the Smiths fill their home with audio entertainment. The children—Lucy, Gabriel, Clara, and baby Josephine—relish the sounds, the whimsy, and the worldbuilding of a good audiobook; and they’ve become aficionados of sorts, Maggie shared.

“They are quite the connoisseurs of audio drama. They know what they like, and they know what’s good. And they have only glowing feedback for the Merry Beggars.”

A Screen-Free Home

The Smiths first encountered the Merry Beggars two years ago after Maggie stumbled upon the A Christmas Carol series. The magic of the tale and the cleverness of the retelling hooked the family immediately.

“It produced some really fruitful and good conversations around the dinner table,” Maggie recalled. “It was really well done.”

Since that first listen, the Smiths have incorporated the Merry Beggars into their daily lives. Sometimes, the kids gather together in their bedroom or the family’s living room to listen to a single episode of On the Night Train or The Saints. Sometimes, they listen to several episodes in a row. Some days, they’ll listen as they wander around the house, “playing or drawing or whatever,” Maggie explained.

“It’s become part of our routine almost,” Maggie said, adding that the kids listen at least three or four times a week. “They’re like, ‘It’s time for our show! It’s time for the Merry Beggars! Can we listen?”

The family has especially enjoyed the Merry Beggars’ The Saints series—and has learned quite a bit by listening.

“For kids, it’s really important to have a connection with history, to almost have a personal relationship, to have your imagination ignited by great historical stories,” Maggie said. “The Saints has formed my kids’ imagination.”

Maggie shared that the family’s habitual consumption of The Saints has even seeped into the children’s play.

Another Smith child, playing as Joan of Arc

Playing The Saints

“We listened to Patrick. We listened to all five episodes in a row; and right after listening, my son was like, ‘Where’s my sword?’ He ran to go find his sword, and he went out to the backyard to reenact some part of St. Patrick.”

Maggie said something similar happened with the St. George episode.

“That really stuck with my boy. It made the dragon no longer mystical. It was profound for him, like, ‘Oh wait, the dragon is the evil one,’” Maggie remembered. She said that her son learned courage, “bravery in the face of evil, in the face of a difficult situation or a difficult choice” by listening to the saint’s story.

Her daughter Lucy also found inspiration in the series.

“She really enjoyed St. Francis Xavier Cabrini,” Maggie recalled. “It was really valuable for her to see the boldness of such a saint.”

Reflecting on the treasure trove of Merry Beggers entertainment for the family to enjoy, Maggie said she deeply values the content her kids consume.

“These are really beautiful stories that are told in a really fun medium, and it’s something that the whole family can enjoy without a screen in front of you,” Maggie said.

The Smith home, it seems, is not empty or dull for lack of a TV. On the contrary, Maggie said, “Our lives are so full and so rich and so beautiful. There’s a lot of cute. There’s a lot of noise! But it’s so full.”

You can listen to all the stories mentioned in this article at

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