Back in the early 1970s, teenager Adrian Pearce received a Christmas present from his girlfriend at the time: Vicki Allen. Yet just seconds beforehand, she had left him heartbroken by bringing their relationship to a grinding halt. And after that, Pearce refused to open the gift for 48 years. But in December 2018 he finally relented.
For many people, the first taste of love occurs in high school. Sometimes, those relationships even go on to stand the test of time, with the sweethearts staying together for the rest of their lives. Yet that’s by no means the case for everybody.
In 1970 Pearce was just like countless other teenagers his age, as he’d formed a romantic relationship with a fellow student. He was a couple of years older than Allen, and the pair seemed happy together ahead of the holiday season. However, little did the young lad know, his world was about to be turned upside down.
Allen, you see, split up with Pearce moments after she’d handed over his Christmas present. And for close to five whole decades, the gift remained untouched under his tree – much to his current wife’s bemusement. But in the end, the former lovebirds reconnected in 2018. And together, after all those years, they finally opened the mysterious package.
But before we take a look at what was inside the small and roughly wrapped blue package, let’s learn a bit more about Pearce and Allen. As is the case for many young lovers, you see, their relationship would’ve undoubtedly counted as a defining moment in both of their lives – and beyond.
This was certainly true for Pearce, anyway. He was 17 years old when he experienced romance for the first time, and it was 15-year-old Allen who’d won his heart. At the time, they were both residents of Ontario, Canada, attending a high school in Toronto. And it didn’t take long for their romance to blossom, either.
A short time after Pearce was first introduced to Allen, they became high school sweethearts. From there, their relationship appeared to grow, with the former loving their time together as a couple. Unfortunately for him, though, that all changed in the weeks leading up to the festive season in 1970.
You see, when Allen was looking for Pearce’s Christmas present that year, she bumped into another young man called Wolf. And the teenager had seemingly harbored feelings for him for a lengthy period of time. At that point, however, it’s probable that no one could’ve predicted the long-term consequences of what happened next.
Wolf planted a kiss on Allen, which she recalled while talking with The Canadian Press in December 2018. She explained, “It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I kissed him back.” Following that encounter, then, she reassessed her relationship with Pearce – certain that he would hear about the smooch.
Allen was then faced with a difficult decision to make before the holidays rolled in. Despite having already purchased Pearce’s present, she was ready to call off their relationship. As for her doting boyfriend, though, he had suspected that something might’ve been wrong before receiving heartbreaking news.
Speaking to Global News in December 2018, Pearce looked back on that fateful day nearly 50 years ago. He said, “When Vicki was 15 and I was 17, we were dating. Just before Christmas in 1970, Vicki came to school [and] I was across the street having a cigarette before school.”
“I knew something was different about [Vicki when I saw her],” Pearce added. “And then she told me what it was. She broke my heart, reached into her purse and gave me this little gift. I skipped school that day, [and] went home all sad, angry and upset.” Off the back of that conversation, however, he made a startling decision of his own.
Relationship break-ups, you see, can sometimes cause people to act in rather bizarre ways. And Pearce was no different in that regard, as he arrived back at his house with Allen’s present in his possession. Given what had transpired outside of the school, he made a vow to himself that he didn’t intend to break.
“I took the present home,” Pearce remembered for The Canadian Press back in December 2018. “I had a long walk home, and I was all upset and angry and all the things you feel when somebody breaks up with you. And so I fired the present under the Christmas tree.”
Pearce went on, “After my family opened their gifts at Christmas, there was still one Christmas gift left, and it’s the gift this girl Vicki had given me. I told my family I’m never going to open that present.” Incredibly, he was true to his word – leaving it sealed for the next 48 years of his life.
As Christmas rolled around each year, Pearce pulled out the unopened present and stuck it beneath his tree. In the end, it became something of a festive tradition for the Canadian – yet he still showed no interest in finding out what Allen had gotten him. The small gift had been wrapped in dark blue paper, which started to wear away over the decades.
Yet while the gift continued to gather dust, Pearce and Allen very nearly reconnected some seven years on from their break-up. When he was attending Humber College in Toronto, he met up with his former girlfriend’s sister, who dropped a big bombshell. She revealed that her sister was keen to meet up with him.
From there, Pearce was given three phone numbers, including Allen’s house number. He received her contact details for work, too, as she was employed by Sears at the time. After jotting those digits down in his diary, he prepared to see his ex for the first time since 1970.
Following that meeting, Pearce and Allen saw each other once more. However, the pair sadly came to the conclusion that their romance couldn’t be rekindled. They then went their separate ways and continued their adult lives. But Pearce was still harboring a piece of the past back at home.
Even though Allen and Pearce failed to kickstart their old relationship, that didn’t prompt him to open the present. In fact, he still put it under the Christmas tree in the early stages of another romance with a woman called Janet Piers. And he would go on to marry her some time later.
Pearce and Piers then welcomed two kids into the world, but he still kept up his festive tradition. “The first time I saw [the present] was before we had our children,” the mom recalled for a filmed interview with The Canadian Press. “And it was placed under the Christmas tree.”
Speaking of this bizarre tradition, Piers recalled, “I was kinda [like], ‘Okay, what’s this all about?’ Adrian and I lived together, we weren’t married, so I just thought, ‘Well, I think this is pretty eccentric.’ But I just let it go.” Her mindset ultimately changed when their children got a bit older and started to ask questions.
The turning point came when Pearce’s daughter was five years old. Spotting the tattered present beneath the tree, she showed a real desire to unwrap the gift once and for all – much to her father’s chagrin. After having her request turned down, the youngster posed a rather morbid question to her folks.
Piers revealed, “[Our daughter] said, ‘Daddy, when you die, I’ll be able to open it then, right?’ I told [Pearce] he could keep it, but we just didn’t want [the gift] out in public.” At that stage, Pearce followed his wife’s instructions and kept Allen’s present away from the Christmas tree.
After that clash, Pearce stored the present in a different place, where he would occasionally look it over. Reflecting on this routine, the father-of-two tried to explain why he kept it up for all those years while talking to The Canadian Press in 2018. And his reasoning was certainly intriguing.
Pearce said, “I kept it initially because I guess I had hopes that we would get back together and open it together. Now it’s just become a habit after 47 years of looking at it and having the pleasure of not opening it. Maybe I don’t want to know what’s inside it. It’s more exciting right now not opening the thing.”
Despite all that, though, Pearce made a significant decision in 2017. Now living in Alberta, Canada, he shared his unique story on Facebook, and it soon went viral. After that, he felt the urge to contact Allen. That, however, ultimately proved to be easier said than done.
While Pearce still had his old diary, Allen’s phone numbers didn’t belong to her anymore, leaving him in a tough spot. After all, he now had no idea where his old flame lived, let alone how to contact her. But his luck finally changed when an old friend read about the story.
This individual was an acquaintance of Allen as well, having remained connected to her over social media. They went on to fire Pearce’s tale her way, which led the former lovebirds to reconnect yet again. As it turned out, she was living in British Columbia, Canada, and had four kids of her own.
Once Pearce and Allen started talking, the latter then asked if he and Piers would like to visit her. The couple took up her offer in 2018 – but there were some reasonable fears about what would happen when they arrived. Thankfully for everyone concerned, though, those worries were put to bed fairly quickly.
“Victoria [Allen] was concerned about meeting my wife of almost 40 years, and how she felt about Victoria,” Pearce admitted to The Canadian Press in 2018. “[But] when they met, they became instant friends. And it’s a wonderful gift that the woman I got married to has no issues with the girl I dated [in the past].”
Meanwhile, Pearce and Allen also used the trip to discuss the unopened present. Given the amount of time that had passed, she couldn’t remember what was hiding beneath the wrapping paper, so the pair came up with an idea. After nearly five decades of waiting, they wanted to discover the contents.
Allen and Pearce therefore organized a fundraising event in Alberta ahead of Christmas 2018. They planned to open the present inside a local coffeehouse, onstage and with a packed crowd behind them. All of the subsequent proceeds would go to the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton charity.
With everything in place, Pearce took to the stage with Allen, bringing the unopened gift with him. In the end, the mom-of-four was given the honor of tearing the wrapping paper off, and she was greeted by a surprising sight. The present turned out to be a book titled Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling.
The publication was filled with illustrations and words regarding love, and it looked to be in great condition considering its age. Following the reveal, Pearce admitted that he didn’t think it would be a book, but Piers had her own ideas. Interestingly, her prediction was far closer to being right.
“My wife thought it might be an Archie comic from the 1970s,” Pearce told CTV Edmonton in December 2018. “I thought it could be like a wallet. Victoria worked at Canadian Tire at the time, making $1.25 an hour. So I knew it wasn’t going to be something too… elaborate.”
Furthermore, Allen also shared her thoughts after unwrapping the gift, claiming that she should’ve remembered it. Pearce’s ex-girlfriend said, “I’d go to a bookstore [as a teenager]. I should have realized. But my reading material should have been a little more eclectic than that, I mean, seriously. Trout Fishing in America would have been a good choice, you know?”
Off the back of the big moment, Pearce’s current wife opened up about her relationship with her husband at home. Even though the gift had been hanging over them throughout their time together, Piers claimed that she was never envious of Allen. But her thoughts on the matter didn’t end there.
“I’m a pretty secure person,” Piers stated to The Canadian Press in 2018. “It’s like, take me as I am, if you like me, you like me. If you don’t like me, fine, go find somebody else to bother. And I don’t think I’ve ever been jealous in our relationship.”
Piers added, “I know what can make [Pearce] jealous! But I don’t think I’ve ever felt jealous in our relationship. And I’m secure enough in knowing that his love is for me and not for anybody else.” From here, the video concludes with one last shot of Pearce and Allen on stage, sharing a hug and kiss after opening the present.
This, however, hasn’t been the only instance where a gift has intentionally remained unopened for years on end. That’s right: after nearly a decade of marriage, Kathy and Brandon Gunn still felt as though they shouldn’t unveil the contents of their final wedding present. And as you’ll find out, there’s a very good reason for this.
When a couple get hitched, they are typically inundated with presents from guests at the ceremony. And Brandon and Kathy Gunn were no different, as they too received a number of gifts on their big day. However, close to a decade on from first tying the knot, the pair still had one wrapped item from the celebration in their wardrobe.
Residents of Northville, Michigan, Brandon and Kathy got married back in September 2007, with hundreds of guests attending the ceremony in Jackson, MI. And as you may expect, the couple were given plenty of gifts to commemorate the happy occasion. In among all those presents, though, one was particularly memorable.
Kathy’s great-aunt Alison had handed over a box with some very specific instructions attached to it, you see. “Do not open until your first disagreement,” read the accompanying note from the bride’s relative. The couple respected her request, too, and left the gift unopened. And as time went on, the contents of the package remained a mystery.
In fact, some two years after the wedding, Kathy and Brandon still hadn’t opened the box – and this fact had left Alison somewhat surprised. “[My aunt] looked at us like we were crazy,” Kathy told ABC News in September 2016. “[And] my mom was like, ‘Kathy, what if there’s food in there or something?’”
“We did ask [Alison] to make sure there wasn’t anything perishable in there or time-sensitive,” Kathy added by way of justification. Yet even following that conversation, the present remained unopened for another few years. And the couple became parents during that period; they moved house a number of times to boot.
Despite any stresses and strains that may have arisen from these developments, though, Kathy and Brandon refused to open Alison’s gift. And Kathy would go on to explain why she and her spouse had been so reluctant to discover the contents of the box. “My husband and I are both very competitive people,” she divulged.
“We love a challenge,” Kathy continued. “The presentation itself was very unique, and it’s not the typical gift. We kind of set it aside because it was special to us.” However, in May 2016 and so close to a decade on from their wedding, the couple finally relented and ended the mystery once and for all.
Such was the significance of this decision, in fact, that Kathy took to Facebook to recall the moment in great detail. And in an interesting twist, it turned out that the unveiling had been prompted by a conversation about another wedding ceremony. “Tonight, we tucked our kids in bed, and my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine on the deck,” the mom wrote on the social media site.
“We were talking about how excited we were to attend an upcoming wedding in Kalamazoo – where we met and went to college – and discussing what would be the perfect gift for the newlyweds,” Kathy continued. “So, I thought back to our wedding day… and tried to recall the gifts that had meant the most to me.”
At that point, Kathy added, she had remembered Alison’s mysterious present. “The funny thing?” the mother of two wrote. “The gift that meant the very most [to me] was still sitting in a closet… unopened.” She then described the box and its accompanying note.
And after sharing the contents of Alison’s message, Kathy made a frank confession. Her marriage to Brandon hadn’t been without its tiffs over the years, she revealed, but those moments still hadn’t swayed the couple to open the box. In their minds, though, there was an important reason for that decision.
“Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our nine years [together],” Kathy wrote on Facebook. “There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up… but we never opened the box. I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box because it would have symbolized our failure.”
Kathy then elaborated on that latter point. “To us, [opening the box] would have meant that we didn’t have what it takes to make our marriage work – and we’re both too stubborn and determined for that,” the Northville resident continued. “So, it forced us to reassess situations.”
Subsequently, Kathy touched upon her thoughts regarding the right moment to reveal the contents. “Was it really time to open the box?” she wrote on Facebook. “What if this isn’t our worst fight? What if there’s a worse one ahead of us and we don’t have our box?!”
Indeed, Kathy added, “As my great-uncle Bill would say, ‘Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t get worse.’” Even despite such apprehension, though, she and Brandon finally pulled the box out from their closet – curious as to what they would find.
And when Kathy and Brandon ultimately opened the box, they discovered two more notes inside as well as some money. But that was by no means all; the couple also unpacked a collection of bathroom items, two wine glasses and a vase. Yet while the true purpose of the gift’s contents may have been hard to understand at first glance, the handwritten messages provided some answers.
In fact, the two notes that Kathy and Brandon found both contained different instructions for the pair from Alison. The message for Kathy read, “Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like. Get a bath ready.” The note addressed to her husband, on the other hand, stated, “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.”
And in her Facebook post, Kathy described her initial expectations prior to uncovering the contents of Alison’s present. “All along, we assumed that the contents of that box held the key to saving a marriage,” the mom wrote. “An age-old trick unbeknownst to us rookies.”
“After all, my great-aunt and uncle had been married for nearly half a century,” Kathy continued. “So, we thought the box would save ‘us’ – and in a way it did. That box went beyond what I believe my great-aunt had intended. It was by far the greatest wedding gift of all.”
Kathy went into some more detail on that last point, too, as her Facebook post came to an end. “For nine years – and three moves – that box sat high on a shelf in various closets gathering dust,” she wrote. “Yet it somehow taught us about tolerance, understanding, compromise and patience.”
“Our marriage strengthened as we became best friends, partners and teammates,” Kathy added. “Today, we decided to open that box, because I finally had a realization. I realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box – they were within us.”
Kathy reiterated that sentiment a few months later when she reflected upon everything that had happened that night. And the Northville resident also spoke about Alison’s reaction to the news; unsurprisingly, it seemed that her relative had been left delighted by how much the gift meant to the couple.
“I felt if we haven’t opened [the box] yet, we’ve got everything we need to make this thing work,” Kathy told ABC News in September 2016. “When you’re young and learning to be married and compromise and all of that, we often thought the contents of the box would reunite us.”
“I think the true story was working it out for ourselves: [that] there wasn’t any gift that was going to reunite us or make it better,” Kathy continued. “It was something that we were going to have to do ourselves.” The mom then mentioned Alison, who lives away from the family in Ohio.
Given the distance between them, Kathy chose to phone Alison right after the married couple had opened the box. “[Alison] thought it was amazing,” Kathy added. “She also thought it was a great story, but she thought we were crazy. She knew it was a special gift but didn’t realize just how special it became to us.”
Then in August 2016 – some three months after the Facebook post had been written – Kathy and Brandon’s story took another interesting turn. Lifestyle website Love What Matters picked up on the tale, you see, and shared it with their followers on social media. And when Kathy’s words were subsequently reposted, they drew a big response from online users.
Thanks to Love What Matters, in fact, the Michigan native’s post earned more than 20,000 likes and in excess of 4,000 shares on Facebook, with people clearly connecting with the message it contained. In addition to that, her words generated close to 1,000 comments. And as a result of that incredible surge in popularity, the story went viral.
The vast majority of the comments reacting to Kathy’s tale were positive, too. “I think [the gift] worked just the way your aunt intended it to,” wrote Facebook user Susan Davies. “You didn’t open it at your ‘first disagreement’ but left it on the shelf where you had to see it every time you opened that closet.”
“It was a silent reminder to you both and probably in some ways acted as a set of brakes when you did disagree about something,” Davies added. “Keeping the anger level to a slow burn instead of a volcano.” Elsewhere, fellow user Bob Wiegmann hailed Alison’s gift and the thought that had gone into it.
“WOW!” Wiegmann wrote in the Facebook comments section. “This is the wisest, kindest, most loving gift your aunt could have given you! This is brilliant and wonderful, and I hope you know how very much your aunt loved you to do this. Thank you for sharing this precious gift with us.”
What’s more, there were several Facebook users who felt compelled to share similar stories to Kathy and Brandon’s after reading the post. Indeed, while Alison’s gift may have been unique, the message behind it was familiar to a number of other people. In those instances, though, the role of the mysterious box was played by different items.
“We had the same kind of gift,” wrote user Tracey Sikula. “The minister that married us almost 16 years ago gave us a bag of M&M’s. He told us if we ever argue, we are to open the bag together and savor one at a time, letting it slowly melt in our mouth while we reflect on what we have built together.”
“The bag still sits in my husband’s dresser drawer, unopened 15+ years later!” Sikula added. Those words were somewhat echoed by fellow Facebook user Pauline Wyer, who wrote about a gift that she had received from her grandma. And much as was the case in the previous stories, the item had come with clear instructions.
“My grandmother gave us two precious teacups and saucers with several kinds of tea to sip whenever we have struggles,” Wyer explained. “Unfortunately, we had to throw out the tea before it was ever used due to expiration, and still we have the beautiful teacups and haven’t fought yet.”
By contrast, Facebook user Cheryl Stemple revealed that she had once contributed to a thoughtful present of her own. And while there were some significant differences between that gift and the one given by Alison, the motivation for both was similar. “Two years ago when my niece got married, we did a little something along the same lines,” Stemple wrote.
“We had written [down] all the comments from a Facebook post to the happy couple,” Stemple continued. “And everyone that attended the wedding was to write on strips of paper a special memory of the couple, words of advice or something GREAT about the day they [got] married. I folded the strips into lucky origami stars.”
At that point, Stemple then revealed the purpose behind her actions. “[I] placed [the messages] in a HUGE jar with a card on the front,” she wrote. “[It] said, ‘In this jar is lucky stars made lovingly just for you, so that when you wish upon a star, may all your dreams come true.’”
“When [the couple] were having an argument, they were to sit down together and open a star and focus on the words that people gave them on their special day,” Stemple added. “They keep it on a stand by itself in the living room. They say that in times when they are feeling angry or hurt, it helps them to remember what brought them together.”
As for Kathy, she reflected on her marriage during an interview with HuffPost in September 2016. And during this discussion, the mom spoke about the vital role that Brandon plays for her. “Life throws so many twists and turns at all of us outside of marriage, and dealing with those problems can be difficult without someone to count on,” she said.
Kathy added, “Brandon is my constant. No matter what struggles I am faced with, I know that I can always count on him to be in my corner and me in his. It’s so much easier to get through life when you have someone that will always be there for you and that would do anything for you – no matter the day or time.”