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The holiday season has become more meaningful than ever.  Since we now live in a global community, families can only gather during special occasions.  Although many of us are fortunate to have a family to spend the holidays with, many others are less fortunate.  Some are lucky to experience the holiday spirit thanks to the generosity of friends.  Still, others have managed to find solace from within their hearts since they have no other place to go.

Regardless, the kitchen remains the most important room in the house in the coming weeks. Whether a modern-day designer kitchen, an efficiency kitchen or a community kitchen, it is time for it to reclaim prominence.  Serving as the heart of every home, the kitchen is the place where family laughter and reminiscing friends share experiences and conversations from knowledge gained and lessons learned.

You do not have to know how to cook to be drawn into a kitchen environment.  The warm and loving vitality that emanates from the kitchen will lure you in.  Your five senses will be energized with the mouth-watering aromas that fill the air.  Some of us already know this while others experience it for the first time.

My late Southern belle mom, Eleanora, once eloquently compared being in the kitchen to being a mother.  Motherhood is about creating something special.  It requires patience, a good attitude and a touch of love.  The kitchen is the perfect place for blending these ingredients ultimately producing a signature dish.

For mothers — They cannot wait to have the family back home together to enjoy a home-cooked meal.

For children — Believe it or not, your mom will be more excited to see you than you are to see her.

For singles — If you are fortunate to have the generosity of a friend’s invitation then you should be thankful for the love you receive.

For those by themselves — Remember that you are never alone.  Be thankful for the riches the holiday season brings.  Home is in your heart and your heart generates happiness and glee.

For the families celebrating with their loved ones this holiday season — I would like to share what my Cajun mom, Ginger, told me a long time ago: “The natural life can always be funny and humorous.  The most ordinary events usually ends up as the sweetest memories.  Being present during the small moments will make us appreciate the happiness when it happens.”

For those who are graciously opening their hearts and homes or volunteering at their local community kitchens — I would like to share the wisdom my German mom, Dianne, gave me a few years back: “Every once in a while a situation occurs that requires us to radiate our energy of positive goodwill, compassion and love for others.  Until we try to put ourselves outside our comfort zone, we will not realize we have what it takes to make a difference in a person’s life and in ours.”

For those who spend this holiday season alone — I would like to share what my late Malaysian mom, Nyah, told me just before I left home for the United States:

“Since childhood, you have been and will continue to be exposed to all kinds of experiences. Some experiences, good or bad, will stay with you for the rest of your life. However, it is how you manage them that will ultimately determine your concept of success and happiness, or failure and sadness, in your life. Always remember, you are never alone. Although food may fill your stomach and the camaraderie of friends give you a sense of belonging, it is the loving energy and the grace of God you experienced from within that nourishes your mind, body and soul.  This spiritual grounding is what will ultimately touch the heart and move the soul of others.”

Whatever your situation is, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what the year has brought you.  Perhaps, you can experience the true holiday spirit as it was meant to be.

Here is my holiday wish for you and loved ones:

Health — makes all things possible.

Wealth — makes all things work.

Love — makes all things beautiful.

May you have all three.

Johnny Tan

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Johnny Tan lived a life of unconditional love for the last 33 years. His journey began when he started college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Adopted at birth by his Malaysian mom, he realized the rich spiritual connections that resulted from meeting his foster mom in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and 7 other women who would play important roles in his life. They represented his teachers, coaches, and counselors. Guided by his business achievements and his 9 moms, Johnny experienced the passion to compose From My Mamaʼs Kitchen to honor his moms and mothers everywhere. Released with the endorsement of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, the book has won five awards and made the Amazon Best Seller List in several categories.

The bookʼs success lead him to establish a powerful platform. Johnny launched his consulting and speaking career to teach strategies on how to use the power of unconditional love to attain harmony. Today, Johnny is also a featured host of a weekly Internet radio program, FMMK Talk Radio, which ranks in the top .1% of Blog Talk Radioʼs most popular shows. Guests have included The New Times number one best-selling authors and experts from the U.S. and other countries.

Johnny’s leadership experience extends from being a former corporate executive for eight years to owning his own business. He also served his community as chairman of Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitor Bureau in 2001, commissioner of Baton Rouge Sister Cities Commission in 2000, chairman of Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Committee in 1998, as well as chairman of Project Baton Rouge 2020—a Vision of Opportunity with a World of Possibility in 1997, and president of Louisiana Restaurant Association Baton Rouge Chapter in 1995.

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