Why It’s Important to Eat Together as a Family: A Story About Anal Beads

Just popping in to say hello.


And to ask whether you’re hanging in there since it’s the HOLIDAYS and holidays are, traditionally speaking, traumatic and terrible. And occasionally magical. But mostly fraught with Big Feelings and also Expectations which Anne Lamott says are resentments waiting to happen. 


I am. 

I’ve lowered my expectations which has helped IMMEASURABLY.

We, in fact, ditched Thanksgiving entirely this year, and it was EVERYTHING I HOPED AND DREAMED IT COULD BE. We went to a movie. We went out to eat. I put up a Christmas tree and coerced my niece into decorating it for me. There’s also a wreath over my mantle which to me totally says Making an Effort. 

I’m hopeful I’ll find the stockings before Christmas Eve but since I haven’t looked and I’m just sort of hoping they magically appear, no promises. 

And that may very well be it. Everything I do this year. Not because I hate decorating. Some years, I’m really into it. But this year I’m kind of digging the Half Assed is Good Enough philosophy. 

Instead, we’ve been our usual amount of Too Busy and Trying to Accomplish Too Many Things with Too Many Demands from Children and Too Many Appointments, etc., etc., to infinity. BUT we’re NOT our usual amount of Too Busy AND Cramming Holidays on Top of It, so PROGRESS, friends. We’re REGULAR exhausted and overwhelmed instead of HOLIDAY exhausted and overwhelmed. 

Instead, we’ve been focusing on What Really Matters this season. Like trying to eat together more as a family instead of rushing past each other on our own separate schedules. 

And in case you were hoping for More Guilt and Pressure in your life, I’m here to tell you, fellow parents, YOU SHOULD MAKE TIME TO EAT TOGETHER AS A FAMILY because your children will relax and share their days with you and you will bond and feel a special closeness you cannot have if you don’t break bread together.

If you don’t eat together as a family, you won’t get to hear your kids say your cooking isn’t as bad as usual.

If you don’t eat together as a family, you won’t get to hear your baby-most child let you know your potato soup has an “earthy” taste “exactly like dirt, really.”

And most especially, if you don’t eat together as a family, you won’t get to see which words Amazon’s Alexa understands and which she refuses to acknowledge.

Like, you won’t learn that Alexa is FINALLY willing to put “fuck” on your shopping list because, without family dinner, you won’t have a conversation reminding everyone it’s THEIR job to put things on the list — not YOUR job to read their minds — and, as a result, you won’t have a teenage human yelling, “ALEXA. PUT FROZEN PIZZA ON THE SHOPPING LIST” And then another teenage human outdoing him by yelling, “ALEXA. PUT A *FUCK TON* OF FROZEN PIZZA ON THE SHOPPING LIST.” 

But now you know, because YOU CARE ABOUT FAMILY DINNER, so you got to hear Alexa read that back to you. She bleeps herself when she does it, but she does record it correctly now instead of failing to understand exactly WHAT KIND of ton of pizza we need. ADJECTIVES MATTER, Alexa. 

I mean, LET’S HEAR IT FOR MORE ACCURATE SHOPPING LISTS, friends. Shopping lists where EVERYONE takes responsibility. Shopping lists recorded with PRECISION. Shopping lists that don’t leave you hanging in the middle of the frozen food aisle, wracking your brain trying to remember the EXACT AMOUNT of pizza your children need. 


I mean, Alexa still isn’t recording EVERYTHING correctly. 

She won’t, for example, put a dildo on the shopping list. Not even if your teenage human asks repeatedly. Also not even if he Enunciates. Very. Carefully. And. LOUDLY. while eating potato soup that tastes exactly like dirt. 

I know, because I’m a Good Mother who makes eating dinner with my children a Priority. I know because my children Let Me Into Their Lives around the family table. I can tell you unequivocally that Alexa will not put a dildo on your shopping list even if you say, “ALEXA. PUT. A. DILL. DOH. ON THE SHOPPING LIST” no fewer than 9 times.

Also because I love my children and want to know everything about them, I can tell you Alexa won’t put anal beads on the shopping list.

Also-also, I can tell you that as soon as the words “anal beads” left my sweet baby’s lips, I finally called a HALT to torturing the Spying Altar To Consumerism that is Alexa.

Even I, with standards so low I buried them underground, have limits, friends. 

And apparently that limit is listening to my children request anal beads.  Sometimes it’s a mystery even to me when we’ll hit the end of what I’m willing to hear hollered through my house.

Besides, it’s all fun and games until someone accidentally orders anal beads, amirite?

“OhhhhKay,” I said. “That is E. Nough, Child. Annnnd we’re done now.”

I said it sternly. 

I said it seriously.


And also-also-also, I can tell you that when the same child lowers his head to his bowl and whispers, “so I guess that means no cock rings” to his Disappointment Soup, I will laugh my fool head off. A fuck ton.


So that’s it. Just wanted to say hello. HELLO. And to ask whether you’re hanging in there. ARE YOU HANGING IN THERE? And to let you to know our Thanksgiving weekend was precious and charming. 

Waving, as always,




P.S. IDK how my kid found out about cock rings, but I’ll be following up because one of the BEST PARTS about having me as a mother is we DISCUSS ALL THE THINGS IN AGONIZING DETAIL and I feel like it’s best we chat about the potential downsides of sticking restrictive loops around one’s bits BEFORE I have to make a midnight run to the emergency room to access the Jaws of Life to set him free. THE KEY IS COCK RINGS WITH STRETCH, SON. #TheyreSoLuckyToHaveMe

P.P.S. I know how they found out about dildos and anal beads, tho. 🤦🏻‍♀️ BEFORE YOU HAVE OPEN AND HONEST CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR CHILDREN, FRIENDS — before you actually ANSWER any and all questions — PLEASE BE AWARE THEY MAY SOMEDAY TRY TO PUT ANAL BEADS ON THE SHOPPING LIST. No one tells you that ahead of time. NO ONE. It’s in zero parenting books. You’re welcome.

P.P.P.S. I feel like now is the best time to tell you I run a small number of retreats each year. Because who DOESN’T want to chat about relaxing retreats right after chatting about anal beads? I AM SUCH A GOOD MARKETER!

Truly, though, one of my very, very favorite things to do is hang out with members of our incredible, worldwide community and offer rest and respite from our regular lives. I would LOVE to have you join me. 

{HINT: A retreat is an excellent thing to ask for for Christmas! If you need more info, always feel free to contact our retreat registrar, Maggie Peterson, at petersonm1@spu.edu.}

Click here for general retreat information

Or, if you want to head straight to the registration pages, you can register via my farm website, CAIRNS FARM:

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13 responses to “Why It’s Important to Eat Together as a Family: A Story About Anal Beads”

  1. I wish my kids would talk about anal beads at dinner. Instead, they keep making Google Home to play Dominic the Donkey, then adding, “crank it up!” as a final, torturing afterthought.

  2. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I have an 11 year old who is acquiring pubes and likes to give me regular updates on number and distribution. It’s all good, and often makes me snigger and snort.

  3. I LOVE teenagers, and then I also CAN’T EVEN sometimes with teenagers, often during the same meal. This post encapsulates all of those feelings.

    We’ve unexpectedly found ourselves in empty-nest-ville for the holidays and I’m finding myself missing family dinners more than I thought I would. I haven’t decorated a stitch. It’s not depression … I don’t think. If I can figure out what it is, I’ll embrace it.

    Happy holidays to all of you! I love your tree and wreath.

  4. My 13 year old daughter drew a rather graphic picture entitled “gay sex 101” at the dinner table last night. She then turned the penis into a strap-on don’t know how she even knows what one of them is.

  5. I am currently sitting at my desk at work silently crying with laughter. This was a magical Christmas gift you have shared with us all. Thank you!

  6. To be honest, you are excellent at marketing. Because I totally would have skipped a post titled, “Why it’s important to eat dinner as a family.” But then you went and casually threw anal beads up in there and I was like, “I…what? Pretty sure I have time to read this.” And read I did. And now my face hurts from the smiling and laughing.

    And also never ordering Alexa.

  7. I don’t think you ditched Thanksgiving….I think you set a wonderful new tradition…..you can do one of those “giant meals at home” every now and then to remember why you have the new tradition. The years with babies and small grandchildren will you back home…because it is just easier!
    Thank you for starting my day off LAUGHING and my husband too!

  8. Oh my Beth… For the record, you are not allowed to make me laugh this hard when my chest cold is just beginning to settle into my lungs…. Pretty sure one of them came up with that last coughing fit, but at least I won’t need the jaws of life if I go to the ER… just resuscitation. Pray for me friends, that I get the cute young doc and n ot the big ol’ nurse…

    When my darling angel child was barely twelve, we were walking through Walmart’s electronics aisle. I picked up a small rocket-shaped silver … thingy, from the shelf and wondered aloud what it was.

    My angelic son piped up from across the aisle “I dunno. Looks like a dildo to me.”

    My horrified shock response was “AREK! Where is your MOM FILTER?”

    Which promptly dissolved a fully grown man in the next aisle into hysterical fits of laughter.

    At least we’re entertaining, we moms who tell them All the Things?

    And our kids will go out into the world with the knowledge they need to avoid those trips to the ER and the embarrassment that comes with not knowing their own bodies well that leads them to make really bad decisions. You’ve got this Mama. You’re doing great. Even if your grocery list is a bit… unconventional.

    Solidarity. <3

  9. This post totally sums up what parenting half a dozen young adults who sometimes still live with us is like. They are fun and loving but weird…and guessing we only have ourselves to blame…

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