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The holidays are just around the corner, but this year is going to look different for many. Listen in to today’s episode to learn more about how you can still have a great Holiday despite the challenges of 2020.


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Doug: Woo-hoo. The holidays are coming just around the corner. I can’t wait for pumpkin pie and famous bread and all the good fixings that come with it. But I must admit, I think this holiday season might be totally different than years past. So I get to ask Dr. Leman, who is the master of fun, Dr. Leman, how do we make the holidays great this year? Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today. If this is your first time with us, I just want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes. Only if the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well,

Dr. Leman, I can already taste the pumpkin pie in my mouth, but I’m worried about the holidays. How do I make it great? You know how to throw a party just by walking down the street. How do we make the holidays great.

Dr. Leman: Well, that’s a great question. Before we answer that, let’s look at where we’ve been. Our children have been cooped up, many of them, across the country since March. Okay. They’ve experienced an education or a non-education like they never have before. They didn’t have a summer, they didn’t go to camp. They didn’t do their lessons that they normally do. Swimming lessons, you name it lessons. Almost everything has been just shut down. And so now as we approach that time of year, that we all love that is the holidays, I think it behooves us as parents to really work overtime, trying to face the holidays with a smile on our face and get together, okay, now some people’s ears just went right back, get together with those we love. Okay.

So a lot of people are thinking these holidays are going to be distant we’re not going to see each other. I question why you would go that way. What I’m saying is I think people ought to go out of their way to try to figure out, “Okay, how do we connect as family and friends in a smart way?” Okay. And I know at our schools, we take every precaution you can take. At home we do the same, and life goes on. So I think putting fun and letting kids be a part of that decision-making process. I mean, if you start a conversation at dinner with kids, “I’m thinking about Thanksgiving here coming up real soon, what would you like to do special? What would really be fun?” And let them be a part of figuring out what to do. Ditto Christmas. Okay. And the Leman family has been known at Christmas time to get in a party bus and go out and handout everything from cash to food, to hand warmers, to socks, to you name it, with the emphasis on giving to other people.

And so I know ourselves, we are going to be gathering in November and December at our home, which means all of our five children are coming to Arizona and we’re going to celebrate. We’re going to celebrate the holiday season. We have much to be thankful for as we look around at many places that you scratch your head and say the world’s falling apart, but it’s only going to fall apart on your level if you let it fall apart. So we’re going to get together. We’re going to party and we’re going to have fun like we normally do. For example, one of our children or Sandy or I have a birthday, it’s very frequent that we will have a parade. And this summer Hannah turned 33 years of age on June 30th. We paraded through our neighborhood with crazy hats, kazoos, noisemakers. We’ve done it for years. We’ve done it since she was a little kid. She’s 33. She still looks forward to her parade.

So have fun. You invent the fun. Okay? You do it the way you think your family should do it. Now, if you’re an old screw, just say, we’re not getting together. We’re afraid of COVID. Well, have a nice year. We’ll talk next year. Maybe we will get you to change your mind next year. But I think you are the one, fun is F-U-N that U part right in the middle, U, you’re the one that makes it fun. So figure it out and involve your kids in it. Enjoy each other.

Doug: So Dr. Leman, what about for the parent who’s like, “I’d love to create some fun, but I just got to be honest. A, it’s kind of not my personality and B, I am kind of overwhelmed right now with all that’s happening.” How could you help them figure out how to add some fun into this?

Dr. Leman: Well, I guess the first thing is to admit that you’re not much of a fun person. And does that really, does that line up with your faith? Does it line up with your calling? Does it line up with any commitment to your family or your community, or to your church? I mean, people are going to hide out. You can go through life scared. You can go through life as a wallflower. I remember working with a lady once, I’ll never forget her because she dressed in camouflage almost like she wanted to blend in with the earth, and I invited her to a party. And she said, I asked her if she’d like to go to a party. She said, “What kind of a party?” I said, “It’s called life. Lady, you got to get off the wall.” And actually that was a case that worked out very well. Lady made some substantial changes in her life and she did a 180, but there’s always going to be the Debbie downers who quite frankly get some psychological jollies out of being Debbie downers.

Andrea: I’m thinking of a parent who maybe has teenagers and the culture in their home has been kind of independent. And the teens are up in their room doing their online school. And mom and dad are at their desks doing their online work and to suddenly turn the tide of like, “All right, we’re all going to get together and we’re going to have fun.” And I can see blank stares right now of the teenagers. Like “What’s just happened to mom or dad?” How do you turn the tide and create a new culture?

Dr. Leman: How many in this family, I’m talking to the family you just described, are sick of doing what we’re doing. Let me see hands. Okay. So there’s, mom’s hand handed, dad’s hand and the two kids that are up doing their remote education. They’re bored silly, too. Now here’s the question, will the four of us, I mean, do we really want to continue doing this or do we want to add some fun to our life? Now if the four of you can’t figure out what would be different, in certain parts of the country there’s still some fall left. There’s still some color in the trees. When we were little, we would take kids on a ride. Okay. I’ll never forget one of my adult daughters calling us up and saying to their mother, “Mom, I’m becoming you. I just said to my husband, ‘Do you want to go for a ride?'” But even going for a ride and going to a town that’s 50 miles away and getting an ice cream that is famous in that county is better than sitting home looking at each other.

Okay. It does put you in the car. There is a time for talking to each other. I mean, we were built to be relational people. We weren’t built to be by ourselves. So again, there are some who are just stymied by all this they’re paralyzed. They’re like the rabbit in the middle of the road that has the headlights on them. And that poor little bunny doesn’t know to turn left or turn right. And I’m not sure that myself or anybody else is going to get them off that little rut in life. But if the four of you can figure something out, then that’s pretty sad.
Doug: Well, and to be an encouragement, the Terpenings, we really try to have fun. We really do. And if I were to tell you some of our … doesn’t matter. But I will tell you from experience, if you try and get four people to agree, to go do something who historically don’t go do stuff, it is painful. So just because you get silence from your kids does not mean that they don’t want to go do stuff. And they might even, right, Dr. Leman, they might even give you lip like, “You’re kidding me. We’re driving 50 miles to go get Salt and Straw ice cream.” Once they get through it, you’d be surprised what they say.

Andrea: I remember one of the car trips we took early in the quarantine, Doug said we were going to go to In-N-Out. And it’s like an hour and a half drive. And so he told everyone in advance to pick a song they liked to play in the car. And then we get to talk about why everybody liked their song, but it gave us something to talk about and fun to do as we were driving.

Dr. Leman: There you are. The creative Terpenings strike again. Our culture, our children are used to being entertained. Okay. You see the vans with a video in the back and you got the three-year-old and a four-year-old in the car seat and they’re watching the video. I get it. Mom and Dad want peace and quiet. I get it. But we’ve trained kids that they will always be entertained. What’s healthy is for kids to figure out that they can entertain themselves. I know we’re going to have a pumpkin carving contest. We’ll carve pumpkins and some will be, and I’ve got some really artistic people in our family. It’ll be fun to see. My wife is in love with pumpkins. Okay. So we’ll have pumpkins all over here that look really weird and it’ll be fun to have them. Well she’s always, Sandy’s very creative and she always has the grandchildren over. This summer, we tie dyed shirts together.

We always do things. I have a hard time understanding why people can’t come up with things that are fun to do. It’s pandemic time in New York where I live in the summertime and the governor there is outrageous. He’s just issued an edict that he’s authorized police officers to fine people $1,000 for not having their mask on in public, outside within six feet of another person, you get $1,000 fine. Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I took two high school buddies of mine and we went out and we got a fishing guide and we went out on Lake Erie and we caught walleyed pike. And we had a great time and you have to make your own fun. There are times you need to get away. Every mom needs to get away from her children. Every dad needs time for himself. Kids need time for themselves, but we need play time together. So you’re the curator, folks. You’re the one … God gave kids parents for a reason.

Doug: I think a big question that a lot of parents are asking these days are, “Do my kids actually want to be with me?” Especially as they get older. What would you say to that parent? Because I’m like, if I tell my kids were jumping in the car and go into Salt and Straw an hour away, they would hate me. Which I think a lot of parents are concerned about.

Dr. Leman: There’s sometimes as a parent, you make a decision that involves your kids, that your kids have no interest in whatsoever. But I think you’ve already alluded to this, Doug. Sometimes once they go and do it, it’s fun. I tell a story of one of my books about going to a graveyard, taking the kids to a graveyard. And there were only three kids at the time and they were in the back. And now that I recall, I was waxing and waning about this cemetery we were going to go to, because all of my Leman forefathers are buried there. And to show you how long ago it was, they were on their Walkmans. And so I’m waning and waxing about Leman history and who these people are, I look in the mirror, in the rearview mirror, and the three of them got headphones on and their heads are bopping around.
They’re not even listening to what I’m saying. So we get to the cemetery and it’s like, “Oh, now what are we doing?” And they get out and they look tired. They look like they’ve been dragged through. “All right, what are we doing here? All these tombstones.” And I said, “Well, this is where the Leman’s were buried.” And my daughter Kristy, “Well wait, what does that mean? You mean, there’s one of these markers like this, that’s got our name on it?” “Yeah.” All right, cool. I said our job’s to find it. And the three of them took off running and it wasn’t too many minutes later when I heard that same daughter say I found them. I found them. And it was fun for these kids, I think, to go and look at those tombstones with all these different first names with that similar, last name Leman carved in granite.

So again, I think you sort of take the bull by the horns. You make it happen. Can you make somebody be happy? You can’t. But you can be happy. You can be upbeat. You can ignore some of the cheap shots or the ankle biting that might be going on in the back of the van.
Doug: When we come back, I want to ask you a question about holidays, about buying stuff for them and your attitude. But I don’t want to forget to mention this month. It’s a brand new month of November and we have a new book out it’s called Intimate Connections for a buck 99, between now and the end of November of 2020. So Intimate Connections. And Andrea, Jacqueline wrote in and said this about the book.

Andrea: Yeah, Jacqueline says, “A must read for men and women in any relationship. I wish I had read this book 40 years ago.”

Doug: Well, Dr. Leman, how is Intimate Connections going to help us?

Dr. Leman: If you don’t have the intimate connection and most of you don’t, let’s be real frank here, you’re going to go through dinners where you hardly say a word to each other. You talk about the things of the day. There’s never a real gut-level feeling or emotion expressed. There’s not that intimate connection. There’s not that I know every word you’re going to say. I can tell when you’re going to tear up, you just don’t have it. You never had it. Okay. And there’s others who know what I’m about to say, you have the intimate connection. The two have become one. It’s a wonderful experience to be so close that we could separate you for three months and, and then bring you back together and you’d pick up exactly where you left off. It’s a book that tries to get through the superficial, how are you today? I’m fine, to a much deeper level of communication.

Doug: Well, you know where to go anywhere. I forgot to mention these are eBooks and wherever your eBooks are sold, however you get them Amazon or Barnes and Noble or wherever, $1.99 between now and the end of November of 2020. Dr. Leman, two more questions I have for you is when you’re in the car, driving to Salt and straw, since that’s the one we are highlighting here and the kids are all grumbling, how do you make sure that your attitude stays joyful in the midst of that? How do you not let them drag you down into the humdrum?

Dr. Leman: Well, this is a little embarrassing, but when the kids were little and they’d get their dog and pony show mode where, “He touched me” and “No, he said this,” and they’re just trying to drag you into it, I would turn the radio on loud and put all of it in the rear speakers. And they will howl like baby pigs who were stepped on. They will squeal. They hate that. Number one, they hate my music. Okay. Number two, it’s really loud. And you only have to do that once in a while. It’s temporary. I’ve got a friend who, when he had small kids, he had driven across the country with the kids. He says, next year, I’m putting the kids in the van. We’re just going to drive around Tucson all day long. We’re going to go to a Motel 6. Then I’m going to get up and do the same thing the next day. I could save myself a lot of stress by just driving around Tucson rather than going across the country. I still laugh about that to this day. But hope you got that.

Doug: Yeah. Here’s the second question. So most of us are taught if I buy my kids more stuff at holidays, then it will be a great holiday for them. I’m going to get them to the new blah, blah, blah, or more of blah, blah, blah. Where’s the line between too much and too little on that kind of thing?

Dr. Leman: It should be skewed toward too little. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s great as we get close here to Thanksgiving and I would have a conversation with the kids at a breakfast, maybe on a Saturday morning, it says, “Hey, listen, tomorrow morning or tomorrow evening,” whatever, you pick your time. “I want you to all bring your Christmas ideas.” Okay? “Bring ideas, Mom and Dad are going to bring paper and pencil and we’re going to discuss the upcoming holidays.” And that will put the kids in third gear. And then some. What do kids love thinking about? Christmas presents and their Christmas list. And they all come expectant, and Mom and Dad got the paper and you start with the oldest. “Okay, let’s start with you, Nathan. Tell me what would you like to give to others this Christmas?”
And it just sort of shocks them all. They go, “Wait a minute, hold on. I’ve had nine hours of anticipation of this meal. I thought we were talking about our lists.” “Yeah, we are talking about your list, your list. What are you going to give to Grandpa? What are you going to give to Grandma? What are you going to give to your aunt? What are you going to give to your cousin?” Whatever. “What are we going to do as a family for other families?” So if you go into it with that idea, the kids will probably temper their own hedonistic needs when it comes to, I want, I want and keep in mind, there’s always a difference between what kids want and what they need, but it’s overkill in too many families who give kids way too many things.

Doug: Ken, I’ve heard you say repeatedly that it’s about experiences and time with family. And Andrea is the queen of this. She demands that in the holidays that we get out of puzzle or two and find a good book to read and I always grumble about it and then halfway through it, I think, wow, this is really fun just to sit here in the living room as a family and do these puzzles and things. You’re right.

Andrea: Well, and that’s one of our traditions every year is to get a family puzzle as one of our family gifts. So we have a new puzzle to do. A good one. Not a really cheap one, but you know, a good quality puzzle that snaps together.

Doug: Well. I hope this helps you get ready for the holidays. And we’re all excited to hear about how many of you go out and get ice cream an hour away, which is a brilliant idea. And it really does give you a chance to talk. Two quick reminders, Intimate Connections between now and the end of November of 2020, wherever eBooks are sold for $1.99 and you can get Dr. Leman Have A New Kid, DVD series, six part series at drleman L-E-M-A-N .com A great, great, great gift to those that are struggling or those that are new parents that want to learn about how do I do this? It’s a great, great foundational piece. Well, we thank you for being with us and we look forward to the next time we get to hang out with you and add to that parenting toolbox so you can love those kids more and more.

Andrea: Have a great one.

Doug: Take care. Bye-bye.

Andrea: Bye-bye.