​​​​​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

I blame Hallmark

You know all about Christmas Hallmark movies. Do not deny it. It is like my awareness of baseball and basketball and all the other ball sports shows on television. (Are they shows? Presentations? Tournaments?) I do not watch, but I know they are there interrupting regularly scheduled programming.

In case you DO live under a rock, I will explain. A Christmas Hallmark movie is about two hours of film where singles find love – during Christmas! There are a few basic formulas for a Hallmark movie. There is a big city career woman returning to her small hometown to rescue the General Store (or Community Center or adorable Bed and Breakfast Inn) from bankruptcy and meets the town’s handsome flannel wearing handyman. He is available to help everyone with their holiday emergencies because he does not appear to have a regular job. With all this free time, how does he pay his bills, I wonder? No one seems to care because he likes hot cocoa with mini marshmallows, has a big heart, and his smile is an endorsement for orthodontia. After my second husband, I prefer the determined and focused boyfriend she left behind in the big city. The heroine is always complaining that Big City Boyfriend does not have enough time to wrap Christmas gifts because he just became partner at his law (architecture, engineering, advertising) firm and works too much. If I could slap a character on tv I would. There is nothing sexier than a hard-working, responsible man. I can wrap gifts all by myself. I know how to use scissors and tape.

I married my first boyfriend. We married young, grew up, divorce as adults. Next, I married a lazy dreamer who preferred playing a gladiator on the computer over being a responsible adult in the real world.

I have been a twice divorced woman out there in the dating world for the past two decades. Dating, in Miami, Florida in my 40’s (and now my 50’s) is not an easy thing to do so I watch others date on tv. Let them deal with the nightmare of it all.

In these movies, barely-employed Sexy Flannel Guy and Big City Girl have a flour food fight (the lamest food fight in the world-it is embarrassing to watch) while making star-shaped sugar cookies to sell at a bake sale and raise funds to rescue the town’s something or other; they skate together on the frozen lake, attend an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, and fall madly in love in about three to six days just in time for Christmas Day where a freshly fallen snow beautifully covers the town. They kiss for the first time (no tongue involved) by the Christmas Tree next to an open box of fancy ornaments showcasing the Balsam Hill logo (Hallmark does not shy away from Product Placement.)

Sometimes there is royalty (And this is before Meghan and Harry!) a prince (or princess) gets snowbound in a small town appropriately named Mistletoe or Garland and fall in love with the local Christmas-loving community and the town’s Bed and Breakfast Inn’s owner. The roads to downtown seem to always be cleared but not the one to the airport. Why is that?

There is the nanny (or assistant) falling in love with the rich, handsome, and sullen widower. Basically, Pretty Woman without prostitution, it is family entertainment after all.

Poor Dickens must watch his three ghostly visitors struggle to match two actors that have no chemistry whatsoever on screen.

The theme that really causes me pain is when the hunk is a chef (or baker or candy maker) and prepares a decadent dish for the girl. She takes ONE bite and mmmmm’s and ahhhh’s at the deliciousness of it all and then, she stops eating! She flirts, gets the guy, and stops eating. And I am at home with a toasted (previously frozen) bagel with cream cheese screaming, “Are you REALLY not going to finish that?” Screwed up priorities.

Yes. I am an avid and loyal Christmas Hallmark movies viewer.

I stopped watching the movies when the Hallmark Channel pulled a commercial featuring a same gender wedding. The moment the channel had a problem with two brides, I had a problem with them. I cut my holiday weekend habit cold turkey. Walking away from the channel was a good thing. By not watching, I support a community I adore. Also, the sappy romances were putting impossible expectations on my love life. I live in a city without a cute name, I do not bake, and there is no snow in Florida.

It has been a couple of years without holiday romance for me. And then… I discovered that the Hallmark Channel has become a warrior for diversity and inclusion. It is long overdue.

Now I am back to impossible love expectations and weekends watching Hallmark in pajamas without leaving the house.

Where is the hot chocolate?

- Marta A Oppenheimer

Marta A Oppenheimer is a twice divorced woman searching for love in Miami, the land of palm trees, hurricane warnings, and Kim Kardashian lookalikes. In between dates, Marta is a published writer, graphic artist, spoken word performer, and a non-profit animal rescue group volunteer.

Marta’s stories have appeared on Chicken Soup for the Soul, Miami Living Magazine, TrueHumor.com, Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, and performed on The Moth Miami StorySlam, Miami Book Fair, Lip Service Stories: True Stories Told Out Loud, Raw Storytelling: Live True Storytelling Show, and The Only in Miami Show on Jolt Radio. The short story, “Love in a Pumpkin”, became a short film and an Official Selection 2022 for the Havana Film Festival in New York City. You can read more about her romance perils at: thedatingdaysofmartao.com and on Facebook: facebook.com/thedatingdaysofmartao but keep in mind that dating after 40 is for the brave.