Sometimes the enigma of a beautifully wrapped present is too hard to resist. The urge to know what’s inside can sometimes be painful! Well, imagine how difficult it would be waiting nine years to open a mysterious box that was gifted to you.
Brandon and Kathy Gunn received many generous offerings on their picture-perfect wedding day. But while they happily and gratefully opened their gifts after the celebration, one remained untouched for nearly a decade. And when they finally opened it, what they saw left them stunned.
Brandon and Kathy commemorated their love back in September of 2007 at a wedding ceremony that took place in Jackson, Michigan, and amassed hundreds of guests. They’ve been happily married ever since and enjoy, um, challenging each other.
See, after the ceremony, when one particular gift stood out as special, the competitive couple knew they could use it as a way to challenge the other…once they read the note attached to it.
The mysterious gift was given to the love birds by Kathy’s Great-Aunt Alison, and the super cryptic note attached to it said, “Do not open until your first disagreement.”
Confusedly, Brandon and Kathy respected Alison’s wishes, which led to the package being untouched for years. The thing was left alone for so long that it practically grew cobwebs.
As time passed, Kathy’s mother grew concerned that there may have been something perishable or time-sensitive in the gift, but good ol’ Great-Aunt Alison confirmed the box contained nothing of the sort. Still, the aunt had worries of her own.
She was shocked to hear that, after two years, the couple still hadn’t opened the gift. After all, it’s not as if Kathy and Brandon were some superior soulmates who never so much as bickered. Finally, Kathy commented on those concerns.
“Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our 9 years,” Kathy had written in the viral Facebook post, essentially clarifying that the two are indeed just like any other couple. If that’s the case, then why didn’t they open the gift?
I Am Expat
You see, opening the box seemed like a surrender in the Gunns’ eyes. “There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up … but we never opened the box,” she continued.
In other words, since Kathy had said that she and her husband were “both very competitive people,” refusing to open the perplexing present became an innocent game and also helped strengthen their marriage.
To put things in perspective, the couple had packed up and moved several times and even went on to continue their bloodlines in the midst of the unopened-present-competition. The Gunns weren’t playing around.
Although they were dedicated to competing as well as keeping their marriage strong without the help of the present, the whole time the couple wondered what was in that darned box…
But later, Kathy revealed the real reason they waited so long to unwrap the gift: “I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box because it would have symbolized our failure.” Soon, though, they started thinking about the present differently.
Although they didn’t “fail,” the pondering and suspense regarding the present came to an end in May of 2016. Almost a decade after they tied the knot, a spark of unbearable curiosity came over the duo.
After a conversation about an upcoming wedding served as a reminder that they still had Alison’s gift waiting for them, Brandon and Kathy agreed in unison that the time had finally come to open it.
Right before opening it, Kathy worried about the metaphorical meaning behind keeping it unopened. She had said “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?!”
Kathy wondered, without the box, could they mend a falling out? She was wise enough to realize that she was being silly. So, together, they opened the gift, finally revealing what had captured their imaginations for nine years.
In the box, Brandon and Kathy found two notes, some money, wine glasses, bath items, and a vase. The basic skeleton of the gift seemed pretty normal, but the notes, which were each specifically assigned, contained instructions.
The note made out to Kathy stated “Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like. Get a bath ready.” Fitting advice for someone in the middle of their first marital conflict.
On the other hand, Brandon’s note simply instructed him to “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.” While Great-Aunt Alison seemingly set up a romantic plan of action for Brandon and Kathy’s first fight, Kathy was a bit surprised.
In Kathy’s telling Facebook post, she wrote, “All along, we assumed that the contents of that box held the key to saving a marriage.” She wondered if she was missing something.
Since Kathy’s great aunt and uncle had been married for decades, she virtually had thought Alison’s present contained the meaning of life and the key to the universe. But rather, it held a lesson. She admitted the gift was more meaningful than Alison had probably intended.
A sentimental Kathy shared: “I realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box – they were within us,” Kathy beautifully put.
Sure, Kathy’s gift brought her and her husband closer together. But what if they divorced without ever opening it? That was the situation Adrian Pearce found himself in after he and high-school sweetheart Vicki Allen split after two years.
It was Vicki who ultimately ended the relationship, and Adrian hadn’t seen it coming. It was right before the holidays, so it was a rough time to break up, but Vicki insisted on giving Adrian the present she bought for him.
Spending Christmas without his beloved left Adrian heartbroken — so much so, that he refused to open the mysterious gift. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to toss it out, so he put it under his tree and left it there.
As years went by, Adrian fell in love once again, this time with a woman named Valerie. Having nearly forgotten all about Vicki, he married Valerie without hesitation and together they started a family.
But the one time a year that Adrian would think of his ex-girlfriend was right before Christmas, as he continued to put out the present that he never unwrapped beneath the tree. Naturally, his family deemed it a bit odd and wondered what it could be.
Years turned into decades, and even though Adrian had told his family that he would never open the present, they had finally had enough of the mystery. On the 47th year after the high school break-up, Valerie told him to open it already.
So on December 23 of 2017, Adrian wrote a Facebook post explaining the situation, which sparked a lot of interest from his social media friends. He finished by asking if anyone knew how to track down Vicki so they could reconnect and open the gift together.
As it turned out, one of Adrian’s friends from high school was friends with Vicki on Facebook, and he was happy to connect the two. Happy to hear from him, Vicki invited Adrian and Valerie to fly out and visit her home in British Columbia.
Of course, Adrian was both excited to see his old flame, whom he had long since forgiven, but he was nervous too. So much pressure built up around the present, what could it possibly be? Would Vicki and Valerie get along?
Nevertheless, the Pearces headed to western Canada where they finally caught up with Vicki. While live on CTV, Vicki admitted that she didn’t actually remember what was in the box, but she did recall the circumstances surrounding the present.
As she explained, she had been out shopping for a Christmas gift for her then-boyfriend Adrian when she ran into another guy named Wolf. They got to talking, and he ended up kissing her, but she didn’t pull away… in fact, she kissed him back!
Absolutely riddled with guilt, Vicki decided that the only fair thing to do was to break up with Adrian, but she still wanted to hand him the gift she had so carefully sought out for him. Forty-seven years later, here they were, ready to reveal what was inside.
With cameras all around, Adrian handed the present to Vicki to do the honors of unwrapping the gift. As soon as she peeled off the wrapping paper, her face turned red, and she muttered there was no way she would have given this to her boyfriend.
After much speculation surrounding what was inside the little package, it turned out to be a book, titled Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling. It was a collection of comic strips by Kim Grove, inspired by letters the author had written to her own husband.
While the book may not have been a teenage boy’s taste, it did have a clear message of love behind it, and that wasn’t all: when Adrian handed it back to Vicki, she opened the book and flipped the pages to reveal a personal note inside of it.
While Adrian preferred to keep the inscription private, he did announce that he would frame the book and its shiny blue wrapping paper as a memory to treasure forever. With that, Adrian and Valerie bade Vicki adieu and headed back home. Still, the story was far from over.
Unable to let go of the story itself, Adrian wrote a book about his experience. The live TV coverage of his meeting with Vicki gave him 15 minutes of fame, which he would use to promote The 47-Year-Old Present.
Aside from the book, Adrian also wanted to incorporate his story using another one of his hobbies – camera work. He announced plans to release a documentary, filmed by the one and only, that would cover what the book did not.
Unfortunately, not everyone was psyched about Adrian’s creative outlets. His own son called the entire story of his father holding onto a 47-year-old present from an ex-girlfriend “stupid.” Even Vicki said the whole ordeal was “a bit worrisome.”
It seemed like the story itself had given Adrian a sense of purpose and a source of inspiration. He was happy to have reconciled with his former love, and to have received some attention for refusing to give up on his dream.
Of course, the anticipation of opening a present is always exciting, so waiting a long time before unwrapping a gift is difficult and takes a lot of patience — even when it doesn’t take nearly 5 decades.
It was December 18, 2018, when a young girl received a big surprise from her elderly neighbor, Mr. Watson; he had hidden some unwrapped presents in his home in Cardiff, Wales, just for her.
See, before Mr. Watson retired, he was a salvage diver. This meant that he recovered parts of ships, airplanes, and other structures that had sunk into the water. He was an adventurer in every sense of the word…
A keen metal detectorist, classical music and opera fan, wood turner, accordion player, election canvasser, and Great British Bake Off viewer, Watson said that he could go long periods of time without speaking to anyone; his activities got him out of the house.
“After my wife had passed away I took a long time to settle,” he said. “There’s a space around me. I still hear her voice and speak to her. I began parachute jumping. I enjoy these sort of things, I feel the rush of the air. The second jump was the best. I thought ‘gosh I’m an eagle.'”
When he was 85, he made what was probably the most daredevil-move of his lifetime: he climbed on top of a small stunt plane and remained standing on its upper wings while it soared through the air!
His neighbors, Owen and Caroline Williams, couldn’t believe their ears when they heard of his adventures. They were stunned to learn what their neighbor was up to and couldn’t wait to get to know him better.
Owen, Caroline, and their daughter Cadi met Mr. Watson in 2014. “The day after we moved in, we heard some banging and found Ken working on a ladder in his overalls,” Caroline said. “During our first meeting, he gave our dog a biscuit. She absolutely loved him from that moment on; he was such a character.”
As much as the Williams’ dog loved their neighbor, nothing compared to the sparkle in Mr. Watson’s eyes the first time he met the Williams’ daughter Cadi. The feeling was mutual — the baby adored him!
Her youth brought him incredible joy, and he couldn’t get enough of the time they spent together. In fact, he said he wanted to live to be 100 years old just to see Cadi grow up.
Sadly, four years after the Williamses met him, he passed away, when Cadi was only two years old. Despite his age, Mr. Watson had always seemed so vital. His neighbors would miss his stories, his visits, and his optimistic outlook on life.
It wasn’t until Mr. Watson’s son Ian rummaged through his belongings that the pair realized that they still had a way to celebrate their favorite neighbor: he had left them quite a surprise, or 14 surprises to be exact.
Hidden in his attic, buried deep behind boxes full of memories and covered in just a little dust, lay a large sack, complete with an instruction sheet for his son: he was to deliver the sack to the neighbors at once, and make sure they take a look inside.
Ian followed his instructions and rang the Williams’ doorbell that same night. When they looked inside the sack they saw that it was filled to the brim with wrapped gifts! Mr. Watson’s last wish was to put a smile on Cadi’s face one more time.
Rather than giving Cadi the 14 presents at age 2, where she wouldn’t remember much of it, her parents planned to give her one from the pile every Christmas. Surely, she might “grow out” of some of the gifts, but the memory of Mr. Watson’s joy would always remain just as strong.
When Owen brought the bag into the house, the whole family teared up. “I don’t know how long he put them away,” Caroline said, “whether it was over the last two years or whether he bought them towards the end of his life.”
Since receiving the generous gesture from the late Mr. Watson, the Williamses have opened 1 present: it was a children’s book, titled Christmas Eve at the Mellops, by Tomi Ungerer, about four brothers in search of the perfect Christmas tree for their family.
Ken’s son Ian — whose sister gave the gifts to Cadi — said: “I’ve known about this since before my father died. He was a very kind man. It is a lovely story and I would like to tell the world what a lovely guy he was…”
While Cadi never truly got to know her neighbor, her parents will be sure to tell her all of his stories and remind her of the kind man who left her all those presents. After all, Mr. Watson was a great inspiration to many and a reminder that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.