Owen Williams and his wife befriended their octogenarian neighbour, Ken Watson, when they moved into their home in Wales three years ago.

When their daughter, Cadi, was born a year later, Watson became a grandfather figure, taking the time to drop off Christmas presents for the child. Watson died in October.

Yesterday, Watson's daughter stopped by the Williams home with a large bag containing 14 wrapped Christmas presents her father had bought and wrapped for Cadi.

"I kept reaching into the bag and pulling out more presents," Williams said in an interview with the Washington Post. "You could have knocked me over with a feather. It was quite something."

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He posted notes about what happened Twitter to spread some Christmas spirit. He wrote that he wasn't sure whether he should give his daughter all the presents now, or hold onto them and give her one a year.

Twitter responded in a big way, with many saying the story brought them to tears.

So many people weighed in about the gifts, in fact, that Williams made a Twitter poll. So far, more than 55,000 people have voted on how he should distribute the gifts.

Williams, who is a social media consultant, said the majority of people are voting for giving Cadi one present a year. He said he has no idea what is in the packages, but he's leaning towards listening to the will of the voters.

"I think we're going to turn it into a Christmas story for our daughter," he said. "We'll do one a year for the next 14 years. It feels like the right thing to do now. If she opens a box of Lego when she's 16 then so be it."

He said he was struck by how many people have responded by saying their neighbours are virtual strangers to them.

"The thing that stands out to me is how few people know their neighbours," Williams said.

"People are saying, 'That's so lovely. I don't even know my neighbours.' . . . This Christmas, take your neighbours a bottle of wine or a small gift, a token. Just say, 'Hi.' You can open a new world like we did."