Heartbreak finally ends: gift opened 50 years on
ST. ALBERT, ALTA. • A man in Edmonton who made international headlines for holding onto a wrapped Christmas gift from a high school girlfriend who dumped him nearly 50 years ago finally learned what it was this week when she travelled to the city and opened it for him.
Adrian Pearce, now a married father of two, received the small present wrapped in shiny, purple paper shortly before Christmas 1971 from Vicki Allen, who was his very first sweetheart at George S. Henry Secondary School in Toronto.
But when she handed it to him she broke up with him. Dejected, Pearce returned to his family’s home, threw it under the Christmas tree and vowed never to open it.
The story last December about the unopened gift appeared on TV, newspapers and websites around the world. On Thursday, as Allen stood on a stage in a packed café northwest of the city and peeled away the paper with Pearce standing beside her and his wife, Janet, in the audience, she herself didn’t know what she’d see because it was so long ago and she’d forgotten.
“Oh no!” Allen exclaimed when she finally saw. “I can’t give that to him!”
It was a small book called Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling with cartoons and sayings about love. “The irony is extreme,” Allen cried.
The event was a fundraiser for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, a local charity that provides Christmas meals to families in need.
“Love is all of us, all of you, here tonight for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton,” Pearce responded.
Days after Pearce’s story appeared last Christmas, a friend who knew them both in high school sent Allen a link to one of the many articles written about it. Allen responded by clicking “like” on some of Pearce’s Facebook posts, and Pearce figured out who it was. They got in touch, and eventually Pearce and his wife were invited to meet her where she now lives in B.C.
They learned that they all got along. They also learned the reason Allen dumped Pearce all those years ago.
It turned out that while Allen was shopping for Pearce’s gift at the mall, she met another boy and he kissed her on the spot.
“It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I kissed him back,” Allen said.
She said she knew Pearce would find out she had betrayed him. She knew it was over between them.
“It was a very innocent relationship. We were in high school,” Allen explained about her relationship with Pearce.
Allen admitted some trepidation about meeting Pearce and his wife. He was a nice boy in 1971, but maybe, she thought, “he’s probably become an expert axe murder.”
Some people had accused Allen of being a terrible person for giving Pearce a Christmas present and then breaking up with him. Pearce has also been called everything from “Heartbroke Bloke” in the British press to “moron” in one New York newspaper.
He’s since written a book about the whole experience, and his wife and Allen contributed chapters.
Adrian Pearce and his former high school girl friend Vicki Allen open the 47-year-old gift on Thursday.