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Love-ActuallyThe family lived vicariously through Love Actually again the other night. It’s a tradition in our house at Christmas, rather like gorging on salmon and cheese canapés, the family row before Christmas lunch and over-salting the vegetables.

It’s almost as traditional as watching the Queen’s speech, if you’re part of the Commonwealth.

That film still manages to evoke emotions from me that remain dormant for the rest of the year. It still makes me laugh out loud, weep and ‘feel’, no matter how many times I watch it.

That part where Emma Thompson goes to the bedroom to have a dignified weep when she discovers that her husband has given the gold necklace to that bitch at the office, and you just want to tear Snape’s throat out Twilight-style for being so fucking blind to what real love is; or the funeral with the Bay City Rollers theme that makes me bawl my eyes out even more than My Sister’s Keeper, if that is even biologically possible; or the cleverness of the timing in the dialogue between Jamie and Aurelia. Then there are the word cards held up by lovesick guy from The Walking Dead and the fact that Keira Knightly still looks so fucking gorgeous on that incredible wedding day in her drop-dead gorgeous dress which still remains timeless – whereas my wedding dress wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘what was so wrong with the 80’s hall of fame’ now.

I could probably go on Mastermind with Love Actually as my specialist subject.

That’s MY wedding next time. Just saying.

In fact, the only part that grated for me this time was when Rowan Atkinson was wrapping the gold heart necklace. Perhaps the memory of waiting at a cash desk was still raw after experiencing a similar situation in Myer’s men’s department only that day.

I had an elderly man serve me and not being ageist – because that would be hypocritical – I had been initially keen to secure his service. Funny how quickly those charitable thoughts can turn to despair and bitterness and vile emotions so far from the spirit of Christmas, that I feel veritably mortified now.

But he was particularly slow, like tortoise-with-no-legs slow, which was not conducive to a great shopping experience in what was a particularly frazzled Christmas shopping atmosphere created by an understaffed department store of shoppers hellbent on completing their Christmas shopping that afternoon, because they had left it to the last minute like me.

I wasn’t in an empathetic mood either. I’d spent the previous hour in my annual torture of shopping for that elusive new swimming costume that fits the middle-aged body yet smacks of  ‘maternity’, finally ending up in the ‘plus size’ section as they had the only offering of costumes that would comfortably roll over my pre-Christmas baby belly.

I am appalled to admit that my sales assistant may have suffered from arthritis and English wasn’t his native tongue and he obviously had the same grasp of modern technology that I have, and didn’t know the procedures for the million and one special offers that Myer was offering just to remain in business for the next six months.

We got through the first part of entering each item through the till, despairingly slowly, while the queue elongated behind me and a chorus of tutting began. But then the real confusion set in. Not only had I accumulated various discounts from pre-pre-pre Christmas sales, (fundamentally, because retail is on its knees), but because I had spent over $200 (on a long overdue new wardrobe for the new man), I was now entitled to a $20 Myer gift card.

Stupidly, I requested the amount be taken off my bill.

The sales assistant looked instantly worried as we both realized that we might actually be spending Christmas Day together among the Beckam boxers and Calvin Klein briefs if I seriously wanted to get that level of superior transaction over the line.

Three assistants, twenty-five new grey hairs, six under-my-breath FMLs and at least thirty minutes later, I was on my way out of the store, cursing my ill-fortune.

And then the remorse set in. It’s Christmas. That guy was probably holding onto that job by the skin of his teeth and although I hadn’t been ‘THAT shopper’ and cursed his ineptitude publicly, I had thought very bad, unwholesome thoughts that might have involved sticking pins into his body at one point.

It’s not as though I was really in any rush to get back to Dysfunctionality house. I could have consoled him rather than privately condemning him. We’ve all been in that horrible situation in a job where we feel helpless and under pressure and have to ask colleagues twenty years younger than ourselves for help, at some point in our lives.

And it hurts.

I wasn’t chivalrous. I wasn’t rude, but I also wasn’t empathetic either.

Sometimes we all need to remember that Christmas is… Love Actually.

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