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The 50-Year Old, Unopen Christmas Gift From an Ex-Girlfriend

Ask people if they had a high school sweetheart and probably 8 out of 10 will probably say yes. Some might be fibbing, but it’s a pretty high majority there was at least a brief moment of a connection that meant a lot in most people’s lives. For Adrian Pearce, however, his connection was going to last a long longer than a few weeks or months in high school.

Teenage Dating

Adrian Pearce and his girlfriend at the time, Vicki Allen, were a definite item. It was the 1970s, long hair and shaggy looks were in vogue, and everyone was trying to be different from everyone else. They were solid item and folks thought they would get married.

The Big Vacation

The end of 1971 brought anticipation of a big Christmas holiday vacation. Everything prior to that point seemed to be going great, but Adrian was going to have the floor moved underneath him. Vicki made it clear she was no longer a partner in their future and wanted out of the relationship.

The Blue-Wrapped Gift

Vicki had clearly already planned what hit Adrian like a board in the face out of nowhere. She had already gone through the details and was firm in her decision. She did leave Adrian, however, with one last Christmas gift. Wrapped in blue paper, Adrian knew the last gesture meant something but he had no idea what.

Angry, Frustrated and a Lousy Christmas

Getting dumped right before Christmas is probably one of the most cliché ways to break up a relationship, and Adrian was the butt-end of that decision. He was furious and didn’t want to speak to anyone about it. Everything he thought they had disappeared, and all he had to show for it was a blue-wrapped gift from Vicki.

The Promise

During his anger, Adrian decided the gift would stay under the tree every Christmas he had afterward, never giving Vicki the benefit of seeing her gift or opening it. It would also reminded him of his pain that Christmas and many afterward. Despite his parents urging him to move on, he promised it would be same every holiday afterwards at the end of the year.

Time Passes On

Decades went by, and Adrian found someone else. He eventually met another woman, Janet, and she wiped out his past pain. They had years of happiness, raised a family, and started all of their own traditions. But one still stuck despite his wife and children; every year Adrian still placed that blue package under the tree at Christmas.

Confusion Galore

When you put a gift under a tree in front of kids, they think it’s for them, but Adrian never allowed it to be opened. Decades passed and his wife and kids learned never to bother Adrian about the matter. They just ignored it. A few times Janet pushed the matter, jealous of something lasting so long for an old ex-girlfriend, but Adrian wouldn’t budge.

Draw a Line in the Sand

Finally, Janet had enough. She demanded that Adrian not put the gift under the tree for another Christmas and just open the damn thing already. However, Adrian stuck to his guns. He refused to unwrap the package and instead decided to take advantage of social media and put his story online.

An Unexpected Result

Adrian expected a lot of attention to the story, becoming a tale of its own. What he didn’t count on, however, is that people online would want to solve the missing reason why Vicki gave him the present and exactly what it was inside the blue wrapping. The game was on, and now Adrian was a passenger for a ride.

Throwing Blood in the Water

The Internet has no shortage of folks with plenty of time on their hands to solve missing details, much to Janet’s chagrin. And putting his story on Facebook allowed Adrian to become the next focus of folks’ attention. Within days, Adrian’s gift was the hot item to solve, and Vicki was likely one of the most wanted people in North America due to a viral response.

The Fakes Arrive

Unfortunately, with a popular story come con artists and scammers. Some hope to get quick money. Others feel compelled mentally to take on a role in someone else’s story. Whatever the case, Adrian eventually confronted with three different women claiming to be Vicki who were indeed nothing related to her. They all failed his simple fact-test horribly and exposed themselves.

Going Back to His Roots

Eventually, Adrian himself got caught up in the chase and wanted to resolve what happened to Vicki as well. So, he had to go back to his roots. Interestingly, Adrian had kept a diary of his early years at least as far back as 1977 when he was at Humber College. It was after the high school romance, but there were details he was able to use.

Clues and More Clues

It turned out Vicki had a sister. Adrian found in his diary a reference to Stephanie. He had met Vicki’s sister during his college years. During that discussion Adrian had asked out to get in touch with his ex-girlfriend again, and Stephanie provided a couple phone numbers to help. But each one ended up as a red herring and no results, or so he thought at the time.

Tracing 1970s Details

Adrian’s information in the form of phone numbers was likely to be useless four decades later. The first number was supposed to be Vicki’s home. The second was supposed to be where she worked. Both were long since obsolete for Adrian, and the third was no better being Vicki’s parents. In his mind Vicki was gone and that was it, no further connection.

In the Meantime, Others Were Watching

Like hundreds of others, people who knew Vicki also picked up on the Facebook story Adrian had posted and starting wondering if the girl with the gift was the same Vicki they knew. Sure enough, one someone who knew both Adrian and Vicki in high school connected. The “mediator” let Vicki know about the story and search, and she decided to reach out after years of distance.

A Reunion and a Revelation

Vicki was now in British Columbia. She connected with Adrian and invited him and his wife to visit. The two traveled out west in late 2018. The big surprise for Vicki was that Adrian still had the gift, unwrapped, so many years later. So, the two agreed it was time to open it up in a grand style. And with Internet watching, the set up made a lot of sense.

The Big Show

With plenty of offers to make it happen, Adrian and Vicki agreed to show the gift, their reunion and the opening on TV. There was a bit benefit as well as the proceeds to watch or attend would go to charity. The waiting for the opening created its own buzz, and people were making guess all over the place what the package was. There might have even been a bet in Vegas on the contents.

Telling the Story All Over Again

Have you ever seen those shows where the first five minutes after commercial retells everything you saw for the first 20 minutes? Well, a bit of that occurred with the TV appearance as well. The producers had to provide a bit of a workup to take up sufficient time for the filing and production and entertain an audience. And in that story-telling another detail came out.

The Secret Behind the Secret

Vicki originally talked about how she had been looking for the present to give to Adrian. While shopping, she met another young fellow named, Wolf. Vicki had always been infatuated with Wolf, even before connecting with Adrian, and she let her emotions get the better of her. After kissing Wolf that day, it was over with Adrian. Vicki was also afraid Adrian was going to find out about the kiss, so it was better to end it early versus hiding.

She Wanted the Kiss

The guilt Vicki felt was because she had wanted to kiss Wolf versus being coerced into it. And she knew this while she was fully involved with Adrian. So, realizing her own perspective and being honest about it, she broke up with Adrian right before Christmas. It was a better choice in her mind that trying to hide her guilt and betrayal.

Folks Forgot About the Gift

Woman holding gift box, cropped

The story Vicki explained was so powerful, for a few minutes everyone forgot about the wrapped gift and what it could be. Vicki’s story made so much sense to everyone listening, and it was the surprise no one really expected to be revealed. It also made darn good TV showing for the producers involved.

The Time Had Arrived

After the big explanation and details from Vicki, both for Adrian and the audience, it was time to get to the heart of the show; what was inside the gift? Since, Adrian had made a promise to himself he was never going to open the gift after what had happened, it only made sense that he handed it back to Vicki to open. She also forgot what it was. Seeing the gift inside, for a moment Vicki second-guessed whether the gift was really from her.

What Was The Last Gesture?

As it turned out, Vicki had bought Adrian a copy of a book titled, Love Is: New Ways to Spot that Certain Feeling. The book was a compilation of related cartoons by Kim Grove, famous for her drawings of two characters expressing love in different ways to each other, big and small. People were shocked; the gift didn’t match with Vicki’s story.

She Was 15 Years Old

Vicki blushed and was embarrassed. Clearly the book had been bought before she ran into Wolf that same day. But she was a teenager, caught up in the moment, and Adrian’s feelings were roadkill for her new infatuation. Decades later Vicki felt genuinely regretful for how she had treated Adrian, the guilt coming back from the past.

Different Ideas Were Guessed

Adrian’s wife was the most practical; she thought the gift was definitely book but not the one it turned out to be. It was just the right size of the Archie & Friends comic digests that used to be sold in the 1970s. Adrian was bit more affluent in his guess; he thought the gift was some kind of a wallet. Both were very wrong.

Additional Details Made Public

As it turned out, Vicki was at a very different point in the relationship than Adrian was. To her, it was a bit of a fancy, nothing major. Adrian obviously thought their relationship was a whole lot more at the time. Vicki was not upset about the change, rationalizing her connection with Adrian was a fling and Wolf was another one. But she never made that clear to Adrian.

Time Moves On

Fortunately, Adrian gave up his grudges a long time in the past. The gift had just become a keepsake versus a focus of his anger. Interestingly, Adrian was going to still keep the book anyways. He wanted to frame it along with the wrapping paper as a memory of his early teenage years and an influential moment on him personally.

Double Benefit

Along with finding out about the gift inside the wrapping and Vicki’s real reason for leaving Adrian, the big TV presentation was also a major advantage for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton. The TV show and reveal raised $13,000 dollars (CDN), all of which would be used to buy needy kids real Christmas presents of their own for the current holiday.

Another Surprise (from Adrian)

Apparently, unknown to everyone but Adrian and the producers, he decided he was a good enough story-teller with his Facebook popularity to also sell a book. So, Adrian used the event to hawk his own printed autobiography of the gift, his perspective of the event, and what the present had meant to him for almost 50 years. Titled, The 47 Year Old Present, Adrian’s book gave him another gift of sorts in his bank account.

Amends Made

Interestingly, Adrian’s wife Janet and Vicki became good friends and stayed connected. Janet, who had hated the darn gift for years under her Christmas tree, ended up adding her own chapter in Adrian’s book along with Vicki.

Never One for the First Cut

Adrian got busy again, however. He kept revising the book, adding in more details as well as content that covered the televised reveal, sections that weren’t possible to include in the first version of the book written before the show aired.

Wrote A Book? Make a Movie.

The book was a gateway to yet another resource for the entire affair, and the whole story then became a filmed documentary. Lots of interviews were included, of course with Adrian, as well as with all the players big and small in the entire timeline of what occurred. However, Adrian has some critics, most namely his son.

All Are Happy Except One

Woman holding gift box, cropped

Adrian’s son thought the whole thing, as well as keeping the book for so long, was just plain stupid. And he was quite vocal about his opinion more than once. However, Adrian was right about his story; the tale of the unwrapped gift kept finding new audiences and became an international interest outside of the Canada. And, unlike his son, all others involved were quite fine with the story and its turnout.

An Accident Waiting to Happen

The key factor in Adrian’s tale was the Internet. Without his story having gone viral with social media, Adrian never would have resolved why Vicki left him much less what was in the wrapped gift. The viral accident literally needed the digital age to work its magic. Even a charity benefitted from how everything turned out.

No Glossing Over Details

For a writer, Adrian did try to do justice to his book. He didn’t want the story to be just his memories romanticized. So, the budding writer went out of the way to re-connect with old high school contacts and get their versions of what occurred between him and Vicki as well. That in turn made the book far better overall, even if some of their insights were less flattering for Adrian.

Memories Captured in Music

People often detail out a particular memory with the details of what their senses were realizing at the time. Food is a common description as well as smells. For Adrian, the song “Be Careful With a Fool” was that reference. Adrian latched onto Johnny Winter’s song and made it the theme of that bad Christmas in the 70s he never forgot about.

Challenges With the Book

Adrian did run into multiple challenges with the book, however. He couldn’t make reference to Johnny Winter’s song lyrics without running into copyright licensing or infringement. So the details had to be left out. His constants editing of details got to a point where Adrian had to cut bait and move onto a new story. Fortunately, he channeled his writing skill into workshops and new creativity.

A Partner Was Never Forgotten

While Vicki was memory from high school, Adrian has his entire adult life to remember with Janet. His memories with his wife are tenfold the number of a few months with Vicki, and there was no comparison at all with the volumes of memories Janet gave Adrian, as well as a family.

Proving Everyone Moves On

Aptly, Adrian decided it was time to make it clear when things ended with Vicki it was well in the past. A few months after the big reveal, Adrian made a point to post a photo of him and Janet in 1972, just a short while after the breakup with Vicki. Adrian, it turned out, wasn’t that lost soul everyone imagined after all. But he was a darn good storyteller.

Many of Us Hold Onto Things for Memories

Whether it’s a comic book, a toy, a diary or a vinyl record, physical things from the past often root people into their long-term memories or bring them back vividly again. One of the reasons why websites like eBay are so popular are because they make it possible for people to find their personal past again.

A Personal Archaeology

Rooting around in the details of one’s history can also be a great reason for travel. Decades after the fact, people regularly return to where they spent their childhood or had significant moments in their lives, bringing along partners, family and kids to see the locations. The current geography just looks like a place, but to the memory-holder visiting can be like walking through a movie.

Website and the Internet Still Keep Helping

Legacy and genealogy sites are very popular as well, especially those that can leverage public records to find long-lost relatives in the past. The details oftentimes pan out pieces of family history that might have been forgotten or never mentioned.

The Ease of Broadband

The power of high-speed Internet has also made it extremely easy for folks to combine multimedia with their sharing of memories online too. Movies are extremely popular, especially short clips that post easily and don’t take long to watch.

Even Animal History Gets in On the Act

Folks have even built entire histories around their pets, tracing their furry loved ones to multiple generations back as well as how far that lineage traveled to the culmination of the loved pet today. And this isn’t the world of AKC breeders; entire stories have been written about average dogs, cats and other animals befriended by their humans beyond just being animals.

Adrian’s New Work

Adrian isn’t likely to revise his book again to add a dog or cat in a chapter, however. Instead, he’s fully engrossed in developing his writing talent and finding new inspiration with others of similar interests. And he, Janet and Vicki still stay connected, a bit amazed how their average life became part of popular history and lore for so many in Canada and elsewhere on the Internet.

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