Like most teens in love, Adrian Pearce and Vicki Allen thought they were made for each other. Unfortunately, life pulled them in separate directions in the 1970s and they never heard from each other again. But decades later, Adrian's obsession with an unopened Christmas Gift his ex girlfriend had given him sent him on a journey to find her that was pretty close to a real-life fairy tale.
They Were High School Sweethearts
In 1970, 17-year-old Adrian Pearce befriended fellow 15-year-old high school student Vicki Allen. The two of them went to George S. Henry Secondary School in Toronto, Canada. So they often saw each other in the halls and hung out outside of class. Eventually, they realized there was more there than friendship, so they started going out.
They Were Madly in Love
Pierce and Allen were two crazy teenagers in love. And like most high school kids their age, they went to school dances, held hands in the halls and did things that made their mothers blush. But something went wrong in their relationship.
Everything Seemed Fine At First
The high school sweethearts had the same wicked sense of humor. They were even looking forward to spending Christmas together. But as the holiday season approached, Pierce felt something was changing, but he didn’t want this feeling to ruin Christmas, so he ignored it so he could enjoy the festivities with Allen.
She Had a Special Gift in Her Hand
Pierce and Allen were both looking for the right gift that would say “I love you.” Then one day, he saw her approaching and ran up to hug her. That’s when he noticed she had a tiny gift wrapped in blue paper with her. At the time, he had no idea that this gift would have such major repercussions in his life. But first he had to deal with the bombshell she was about to throw his way.
She Had Some Bad News
Pierce was horribly surprised when Allen told him that she wanted to break up with him. It didn’t make sense because she seemed so excited when she initially approached him with the gift she handed him. He thought that they would get married someday, but now that dream was squashed. Soon, he went from sad to angry. But the reason she was leaving him was even more heartbreaking.
He Threw Her Present Under the Tree
Allen’s present wasn’t enough to comfort Pierce’s achy heart. He was still in shock over the way she ended things. Eventually, the anger overwhelmed him and he decided not to open her present at all. Instead, he threw her gift under the Christmas tree and promised never to open it. But was he able to keep that promise?
He Eventually Moved On
Pierce got over the pain of his breakup to Allen by the time he started attending Humber College. A few years later, he found love again with a woman named Janet. It wasn’t long before the two of them decided to move in together. But there was one tradition he kept going, which was to leave Allen’s sealed present under the Christmas tree.
He Started a Family
One day, out of the blue, Pierce asked Janet to marry him and she said yes. The couple eventually married and had two kids. He also began his lifelong dream of working as a cameraman. But even Janet thought that her husband’s Christmas tradition regarding his high school sweetheart’s present was weird. Then their daughter started asking questions about it.
He Was Never Going to Open the Present
Pierce’s 5-year-old daughter started asking about the mysterious present. She also wanted to know why it hadn’t been opened. But Pierce told her: “I’m never going to open the present.” His wife Janet wasn’t the jealous type but the present was getting on her nerves, so she demanded that he stop putting it under the tree. But did he do it?
He Got Pleasure From Not Knowing
Pierce explained that he got “a lot of pleasure every year out of pulling it out of the drawer,” without actually opening the gift. So he defied his wife and continued with the Christmas tradition. Nearly 50 years had passed and he kept doing it, despite his wife’s irritation over the whole thing.
It Was Time to Put the Past Behind Him
Janet was concerned for her husband, who had held on to this emotional baggage from his past in the form of a tiny present. It was time to put the past behind him and the only way of doing that was to unwrap the present. But Pierce decided it would be easier to share the backstory behind the present before revealing what it was.
He Shared His Story on Social Media
In December 2017, Pierce revealed how he vowed never to open the Christmas gift his girlfriend got for him before she dumped him almost 50 years ago. The only thing was that he had every intention to open it, but not yet. He decided to draw out the suspense until the following holiday season to allow netizens time to catch up to his story.
His Story Drew Attention
As people on social media continued to learn about his story, Pierce started to realize that the gift from his ex-girlfriend was a memento of his teenage years. And all of a sudden, he found himself struggling not to open the gift earlier than expected. But he had no idea that his story was going to garner so many likes and comments, and even the media’s attention.
The Media Got Wind of His Story
His Facebook post went viral almost immediately. And eventually it gained traction from the media. As a cameraman he was used to being in the middle of the story. But now he was the story! So, after getting advice from people on social media and talking to reporters and some friends, he decided to break his vow. He still wanted the moment to be special, so he came up with a plan.
He Invited People to Find His High School Sweetheart
He considered opening the present on the 50th anniversary of when he got the gift. He wrote on social media how “the icing on the cake would be finding this woman and having her join the celebration!” So, he provided people with all the information he knew about his high school sweetheart. Then he remembered a chance encounter he had had with one of her relatives.
He Ran Into Allen’s Sister
Pierce later recalled that he had run into Allen’s sister in 1977 while he was in college and she gave him three phone numbers he could use to contact her. But that was decades ago, and unfortunately, all of the numbers were out of service. So he asked netizens for help in finding his old partner.
It Became International Headlines
Pierce made it clear in his request that he no longer had any romantic feelings for Allen but that it would be nice to find her so she could be there when he opened her present. This search made international headlines and eventually brought more than one Vicki Allen into his life. But were any of them his former flame?
There Were Too Many Vicky Allens Claiming to be the Real Thing
Women claiming to be Vicky Allen popped up left and right in order to get their 15 minutes of fame. But Pierce remembered everything about his high school sweetheart and these pretenders never fooled him. To be fair, he asked them questions only she would know and they all failed. But would the search pay off eventually?
A Mutual Friend Passed the Message Along
Fortunately, one of Pierce and Allen’s mutual friends read about the search on social media. This friend knew where Allen was, too, so they told her about what was happening. But while there was relief and excitement heading Pierce's way, there was also a lot of old emotional baggage and an unopened present to worry about.
She Was Flattered By All the Attention
Pierce worried about how his high school sweetheart would feel about the whole search he instigated on social media. Allen later shared that she thought, “Okay that’s flattering.” She remembered him fondly, but she was concerned about the fact that he was married. How would Janet feel about her when they met?
He Invited Her to Meet His Wife, Janet
Once Pierce found Allen, he invited her to meet his wife. Janet later explained that she was always “pretty secure enough in knowing that his love is for me and not for anybody else. I’ve never been jealous.” Better yet, Allen and Janet became friends right away. But there was still one big mystery to open up.
They Threw a Charity Event
Given all the hype of the story about what was inside the present, Pierce and Allen decided to come up with an epic reveal. To do that, they threw a sponsored charity event and invited the media. Once everyone was there, they intended to reveal live on air just what this mysterious gift was.
Everyone Was in Suspense
Finally, everyone at the event and those following the story on social media were anxious at the anticipation of what the present was. Unfortunately, the former couple thought it would be a good idea to keep everyone in suspense a little longer by cracking jokes and telling stories. But at some point, they all just wanted to know the truth.
He Asked Her to Do It
Pierce wasn’t comfortable breaking his vow not to open the present, so he asked Allen to do it for him. Of course, she couldn’t remember what was inside it. Then she opened it and turned red as a tomato. “Oh no, I can’t give you that,” she said. Then she revealed that it was a book titled “Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling.”
Their Romance Was Innocent
Allen confessed that it was a weird gift to give someone right before a break up. But she then admitted that their relationship wasn’t so much serious as it was innocent. And yet, it didn’t explain why she had broken Pierce’s heart so long ago.
The Christmas Shopping That Changed Their Lives
While Allen had been Christmas shopping all those years ago, she met a boy named Woolfie, who kissed her at the mall. The issue wasn’t that another boy had planted his lips against hers. It was the fact that she kissed him back.
She Felt Like a Traitor
She realized that she had betrayed what she and Pierce had, so she decided that the only logical thing to do was to break his heart and make a clean getaway. At the 2017 event, she added how it “just shows how ignorant a 15-year-old can be.”
He Wrote a Book
The past had haunted him for so long, but now he knew what Allen’s gift was and why she had broken his heart. So, instead of getting mad, he decided to turn what had happened into a book. But this story was far from over.
He Had No Idea Why She Got Him This Gift
Pierce was still curious to learn why Allen had chosen this book to give to him, which is why he later wrote a book about his experience. He hoped that this mental journey into his past would provide some clarity to why this was a huge mystery. He also couldn’t forget what she had told him about not remembering why she bought this gift for him...
He Found a Mysterious Cut Out
After sifting through some of the pages, he found a cut out of a newspaper that read “Love is: not feeling lonely anymore.” He wasn’t sure if he had given Allen that cut out but suspected it might have inspired her to buy that book. Either way, the mystery behind Allen’s reasoning intrigued him as it did so many of those who had followed his story.
He Had Gained a Ton of Fame
Pierce commented, “Someone stopped me the other day and said, “Aren’t you the guy who has that old present? I saw you on the news!” This wasn’t just one random person. Everyone started asking questions and he tried to answer as many as he could. But there were still more questions that he had to figure out before he could put this piece of his past to rest.
Social Media Was Curious About His Wife
The media was still not convinced that Janet was okay with Pierce's connection to Allen. In fact, one interviewer asked if Janet was comfortable about Allen and he said: “If Janet had been uncomfortable when I began this journey looking for my ex-girlfriend, then I would have stopped.” But this raised questions about whether he truly was over Allen.
The Former Couple Was Seen Together a Lot
After years of being apart, Pierce and Allen were spending a lot of time together. They even appeared on talk shows and news segments. And while they did made a cute couple, they were not together. Interviewers, however, were curious as to how she felt about her ex being back in her life.
She Was Flattered By the Whole Thing
Allen shared during an on-air interview that she was flattered by all the attention. But she also claimed that she thought it was just an innocent romance back when she was 15 and assumed that her gift conveyed the message: "catch you later."
They Kissed During an Interview
People got more suspicious that there was still love in the former couple's hearts, especially at the Grand Reveal event when they not only hugged each other, but also kissed each other, too. But did Janet see them doing it?
He Claimed the Kiss Was Innocent
In later interviews, Pierce clarified that he did kiss Allen in front of his wife and in front of the cameras. But he said that the kiss was short and no different than when he kissed his sisters-in-laws on the lips. But was this explanation enough for his wife?
He Was Still Happily Married
Pierce felt it was necessary to emphasize that he was a happily married man. He even shared photos of him and his wife on social media all the time. But this still didn't explain why was he not able to part with Allen's gift.
He Had Hoped They Would Get Back Together
One interviewer asked, "why did you really keep the gift?" which caught Pierce off guard. “At first I kept it cause I thought we might get back together,” Pierce admitted during an interview. He then added that the only reason he kept putting Allen's present under the tree even after getting married to Janet was because it had become a tradition. But who inspired him to write a novel?
His Wife Became His Muse
Allen might have been the reason why there was something to write about in the first place, but Pierce knew that it was his wife Janet who saw a potentially good story in this and she encouraged him to write a book about it. But she had two conditions.
He Had To Tell Everyone's Side of the Story
The 47-year tradition might have belonged to Pierce, but Janet felt that there were two other points of view that he needed to introduce into his book: his past and his present lover's, which were Allen and herself.
His Wife and His Ex Banded Together
To make things even more special, his wife Janet, and his ex Allen decided to collaborate on the creation of the book because it was important that the readers were able to understand everyone's side of things.
Allen Offered Three Chapters
Allen provided the book with three chapters that not only explained what this experience had been like for her, but also how amazing it felt when someone she held dearly in her heart reached out after 5 decades.
She Dove Deeper Into the Past
Allen not only got to relive her best high school years, but she also shared some interesting tidbits about the past, like how dating Pierce at the time gave her a popularity boost because he was the president of the photography club. She also talked about what it was like being reunited with Pierce and meeting his wife. But what about Janet's side of things? How did she feel about the reunion?
Janet Had Her Time in the Spotlight
Pierce wasn't the only one who had been haunted by Allen's memory. Janet had felt her presence too, over the years with the gift sitting under the Christmas tree and all. She explained in her part of the book what it felt like to actually meet the woman whom her husband had never truly forgotten.
The Book Was Published
Once everyone had polished their drafts and submitted them to the publishers, the book titled "The 47 Year Old Present" finally hit the bookshelves and Pierce, Janet and Allen were very happy with what they had accomplished. But would the book attract an audience?
It Became a Bestseller
The book was a major hit and everyone on social media was getting a kick out of their unique story. Eventually, it became a bestseller so the couple decided to launch a book tour across North America. But if you think this was a one time thing for Janet, think again!
They Did a Book Tour
While collaborating on her husband's book was great, Janet was also working on a detective-style book called "Eye of the Magpie." Soon enough, the book became a bestseller, too. So, she and Pierce banded together to promote both books within the same tour.
The Gang of Six
Pierce also revealed that while sifting through the memories of his past, he discovered that there were other people in his life during high school that had an impact on his life. It was thanks to two of those friends, Don and Steve, that he got to meet Allen in the first place. But where were they now?
He Wanted To Reunite With His Old Friends
Pierce had already reunited with his ex-girlfriend, Allen, but now he was hoping to reconnect with his high school chums after nearly 50 years of not seeing each other. But this idea set him on a path towards a project bigger than his bestselling book...
A Documentary is in the Works
While Pierce was busy figuring out how to make a high school reunion work, he was contacted by a production company who read his book and wanted to make a documentary out of it. So with a documentary in progress, it seems like his journey into the past is just beginning.