Owen and Caroline Williams had no idea what the cosmos had in store for them and their lovely family. It all started when the pair relocated to Barry, a British coastal town in the Vale of Glamorgan in south-east Wales.
A few days later, they met their next-door neighbour, an old guy called Ken Watson. But this was no ordinary or routine meeting; rather, it was a thrilling experience that the Williamses would treasure and love for the rest of their lives.
As the smallest member of Team Williams heads to bed, here’s our chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas – Nadolig Llawen – in what must have been the most unexpectedly magical week of our lives!— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 24, 2018
We await Ken’s first gift of 14 with no little anticipation! #BeMoreKen pic.twitter.com/QVJlabyq7E
Owen was astonished to discover an 83-year-old Ken building scaffolding in front of his house and jumping on top of a 20-foot ladder at the moment. To his amazement, pogo-hopping on a steep ladder wasn’t Ken’s only experience; he had a variety of other unusual pastimes.
It was just a matter of time until the Williamses became friends with their elder neighbour, who was adorably spry and had dabbled in a variety of fields. Ken was a former sailor, salvage diver, baker, and carpenter, according to Owen. He was particularly interested in classical music and opera, and he liked playing the accordion.
But underlying his outgoing personality was a man in mourning after the death of his wife, Beryl, in February 2012. Ken started to feel lonely after saying goodbye to his loving spouse, and he had no grandchildren to keep him company.
At the age of 85, he took up numerous activities to keep himself entertained throughout the winter of his life, such as skydiving, wing-walking, and parachute jumping. But there was something else Ken adored: seeing Owen and Caroline’s newborn child, Cadi Williams, grow up.
Cadi was too little to remember her elder buddy, yet his love for her grew stronger with each passing day. Ken, who had previously worked in and successfully run his family’s Cardiff bakery, formed a close and enduring friendship with the little girl and her parents.
Ken died one day in October 2018, leaving his family, friends, and neighbors devastated. Owen characterized his elderly neighbor as “a great character” with many remarkable qualities. He was used to watching Ken play Santa for the youngsters in the neighborhood, surprise them with heartfelt presents.
Eventually, the Cymru resident discovered that Ken had purchased the local toy business in order to provide the kids with wonderful holiday gifts. He had even given Cadi a big stuffed goat for her first Christmas. His untimely death had left a massive vacuum that could never be replaced.
Owen was stopped by a tap on the door on the Monday evening before Christmas. When he answered, he was surprised to discover Ken’s daughter, Jenny, holding a huge bag. Owen first mistook it for a garbage bag, but when he brought it inside to show his wife, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He remembered that their elderly neighbor recently died away. His daughter just came around the corner, holding a huge plastic sack. All the Christmas presents he’d bought for their daughter for the following thirteen years were in the sack.
Our elderly neighbour passed away recently. His daughter popped round a few moments ago clutching a large plastic sack. In the sack were all the Christmas presents he’d bought for *our* daughter for the next thirteen years. 😢 pic.twitter.com/6CjiZ99Cor— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 17, 2018
Owen promptly rectified himself, noting that the parcel included fourteen gifts, one for Cadi’s two-year-old birthday each year until 2032. He always said he’d live to be 100, so these gifts would have gotten him to their little girl’s 16th Christmas, Owen said.
There was one minor issue, however: Ken had not labeled the gifts by age or year. The Williamses unwrapped one present, a children’s book titled “Christmas Eve at the Mellops” by Tomi Ungerer, unable to resist the impulse to explore what was inside.
We opened one. We couldn’t resist. pic.twitter.com/vlNaRjoFoE— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 17, 2018
Owen took to Twitter to conduct a poll, unsure if to open all of the gifts at once or one at a time. Finally, he chose to heed the majority of netizens who requested that one gift be unwrapped each year.
Owen and Caroline promised to give Cadi one item every Christmas and to tweet a photo of her unpacking it. The parents believed that by doing so, their young girl would come to know a guy who loved and spoiled her for as long as she lived. Owen related that they’ll make a family Christmas custom out of this elderly gentleman who was really good to her once upon a time and who she will only know via stories.
Ken’s present number 2 is open!— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 25, 2019
(It’s the strangest feeling to see these gifts finally being unwrapped – like thoughts and memories lost in time, suddenly discovered. An oddly emotional moment for us)
❤️ #BeMoreKen pic.twitter.com/fFqYCDXSF6
Jenny, Ken’s daughter, stated she found the Christmas gifts hidden away and only uncovered them when cleaning. However, the Williamses revealed that they had no knowledge their 87-year-old neighbour had purchased Christmas gifts for their daughter.
“A present from Ken” number 3 is now open!— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 25, 2020
It’s a giant Crayola colouring book (which will likely be full by the end of the day!).
Nadolig llawen / Merry Christmas everyone 🎄 #BeMoreKen
(👆 Scroll up for the full story 👆) pic.twitter.com/APgWBVRDen
Ken’s rapid befriending of Owen and Caroline’s family dog was another tribute to his warmth and friendliness. According to the pair, he offered her chocolate cookies on their first date, following which she shrieked and raced to him anytime they crossed paths.
While the Williamses would miss their kind elderly neighbour in the coming years, they were grateful for the opportunity to get to know him and his lovely heart. Owen mentioned that he intended to make the gift-wrapping procedure into a Christmas story for his kid.
Our dog loved him. I mean, genuine visceral love. It was mainly due to the chocolate digestive biscuits he gave her on first meeting. She’d scream whenever she saw him. Really scream. Like a banshee. He’d call her “my darling” and “sweetheart”.— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 17, 2018
This is her first meeting. pic.twitter.com/DoG1F8mprO
Cadi has had a lovely time receiving her Christmas presents since 2018, and her father’s Twitter thread has garnered an incredible response from netizens. Owen stated that he was contacted by various media sites and others who expressed surprise at how close his family was to Ken.
He continued that what strikes him the most is how few folks understand their neighbours. ‘That’s so nice,’ people say. ‘I don’t even know who my neighbours are.’ Take a bottle of wine or a modest gesture to ones neighbours this Christmas. Simply say, ‘Hello.’ One , too, may create a new universe, like they did.
Ken’s present number 4 is open (10 years’ worth to go!).— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) December 25, 2021
And I’m looking forward to getting our biggest small person acquainted with Joan Aiken!
🎄 If you don’t know the full Christmas story of these gifts from a deeply thoughtful neighbour, scroll up! 👆#BeMoreKen 🎁 pic.twitter.com/I6PHhMd9nQ
Cadi’s beautiful Christmas story melted many people’s hearts.
What a kind and compassionate old man with a golden heart! He will be appreciated for his kindness for many years, and we’re sure Cadi and her family will love unwrapping her Christmas presents every year.