Just one thing I need: nothing

Teen declines any gifts after noteworthy Christmas experience


Logan Flake

Bliss Knowe peaks into her empty gift bag from her secret Santa as her peers open their gifts behind her. Knowe’s secret Santa was notably confused when he received Bliss’ wish list, which was completely blank.

Lyndsay Valadez, Reporter

At 8 years old, sitting next to the Christmas tree, junior Bliss Knowe experienced the most traumatic moment of her life. After her freshman sister Eleanor Knowe opened her Christmas present, Bliss’s dream sweater, it was time for Bliss to open hers. She unwrapped in total excitement with hope in her heart and suddenly bursted into tears.
All she had dreamt of for Christmas previously was the sparkling, pink-sequinned, sweater Eleanor received. Instead, Bliss got what she considered to be the ugliest Christmas sweater there ever was. From then on, she decided that never again would she open presents and in turn never give presents. No matter how hard they try, nobody can exactly understand why she is the way she is, not even herself.
“In that moment, Bliss was the unhappiest Bliss I had seen,” Eleanor said.
Her father and mother, Kris and Jen Knowe, can not quite grasp what happened to their daughter that day. They bought the sweater because they thought it was bright and full of youth. Both of them did this out of love and thought there had to be something deeper that caused her to act out.
Nobody except for her sister, Eleanor Knowe, remotely understands where she is coming from. Eleanor has suggested many of times that she could get rid of the sweater in different ways. Once, she told Bliss to put it in the fireplace and Santa would bring a new gift like nothing ever happened. But for that exact reason, Bliss wants to keep the haunting gift as a reminder not to accept anyone’s gifts at all.
“Even if I had burned the sweater, the trauma would never leave me,” Bliss said.
Bliss is not exactly sure what got into her that day, but Eleanor thinks she does. Eleanor claims it’s a sister thing that she knows Bliss better than she knows herself. She thinks that the sweater is a larger version of the one she received the day of her second birthday. The terrible twos were not only hard for Kris and Jen, but Bliss herself as well. The day Bliss turned 2 was the day before Eleanor was born.
Each year they would alternate which day to celebrate their birthdays together. The year after this tragedy, Bliss stopped the tradition. Eleanor understands where Bliss comes from, but nonetheless, is upset her sister stopped being what she called “clingy and annoying.”
“It’s jealousy that runs Bliss,” Eleanor said. “She will never accept anything, not even my existence or presence.”
Bliss says she ignores and doesn’t accept out of habit. It is a habit she says she will never be able to stop. Eleanor, although closest with Bliss, feels like the past years during the Holidays are when she is pushed away the most and her habits could never be considered good.
Kris and Jen have felt a similar attitude coming from Bliss. Kris thinks it started out as only immaturity and now is just “an awkward teen phase” she is going through. Jen, though, worrying as mothers do, does not know if the nonsense will ever end.
“Sometimes I think that maybe if she did take gifts, she would enjoy them again,” Jen said. “But, good luck getting them into her hands.”
Even when her best friend Danny Clements forced a Christmas gift of only a pair of socks and an eraser into her bookbag, Bliss picked them out and threw them to the ground. Clements has a hard time understanding her. Ever since, he hasn’t known who the “new Bliss” is. It’s becoming a problem for everyone who wants to be around and see a happy Bliss.
“Bliss can’t accept things that she should,” Clements said. “It’s a shocker that she can ask someone to borrow a pencil.”
Clements has found comfort in Eleanor as she has not yet gone insane talking with her sister and even her parents. And Eleanor has felt reassurance from Clements that she is not overreacting and her sister is out of control.
With the common feeling of being pushed, they, along with Kris and Jen, confronted Bliss. Although upset everyone felt this way, Bliss stood her ground and did not give up what she wanted to do.
“Whether or not it’s for the best, when I say I don’t want anything, I literally do not want anything,” Bliss said.
To this day, even though feeling judged, Bliss does not want or expect to get presents, especially at Christmas time.