The shop at the end of our road where we always buy our tree looked strangely deserted

After all, I had been up to my eyeballs with work and it was only 11am on Christmas Eve. For years we have had at least a six foot real tree, but here I was surrounded by just a few sad, tiny and bald looking trees wondering what the devil my family would say? The children have always dressed our six foot fir on Christmas Eve with decorations collected from all four corners of the world – another family tradition being that wherever we go, we must bring back a Christmas decoration for the tree that is typical to the country that we have visited.

I sped to the next place, and another. No joy. I sent a text to my daughter: ‘Looks like no Christmas tree this year.’ Two seconds later, there was an anguished wail down the phone. What did I mean, no Christmas tree?

I can’t have looked properly. Our Christmas is not ‘our Christmas’ without a tall tree. I suggested an artificial one. Appalled silence. That was when I realised how passionately one’s children care about Christmas being exactly the same as always, even when they are 19, 16 and 14 years old. And it isn’t just the children.

All of us have our family Christmas traditions – rituals that have not really been decided in advance but have somehow grown organically over the years. Without these foibles and customs the celebration somehow feels wrong.

But research has shown that whilst it might make us feel uncomfortable, rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

If this is your first issue of Executive Secretary, you may be stuck in a rut in your job, used to your rituals and uncomfortable with trying something new. Hopefully the reason you have subscribed is because you want to change all that.

I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy your rituals and family traditions over the holiday season but come back to work in January with an open mind, full of new ideas and inspiration. We’re here to help you to achieve great things in 2012.


Lucy Brazier, OBE is one of the world’s leading authorities on the administrative profession. Author of ‘The Modern-Day Assistant: Build Your Influence and Boost Your Potential’, she is the CEO of Marcham Publishing, a global force synonymous with world- ... (Read More)

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