Accidental Thanksgiving: Grandmother who texted random teen will celebrate holiday with him for 6th time


File image from 2016: Wanda Dench accidentally invited a stranger to her Thanksgiving dinner via text message — and remained true to her promise of hosting him. Jamal Hinton joined Dench and her family for dinner.

MESA, Ariz. – This “accidental” Thanksgiving tradition isn’t so accidental anymore.

In 2016, Jamal Hinton received a text message from Wanda Dench. It was a mistake—Dench was trying to contact her grandson, who’d changed his phone number.

Hinton received the message while sitting in his high school class. The pair quickly figured out their mistake, but Hinton asked if he was still invited.

Dench’s reply went down in the annals of viral internet history: “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do… feed everyone.”

Since then, Hinton and Dench have celebrated Thanksgiving together. That will continue this year for the sixth time.

Hinton tweeted a photo of this year’s text inviting him, his girlfriend and his family over for Thanksgiving.

“It would bring me great joy if you, Mikaela and your family would come to my house on Thanksgiving day to share good food and great conversation. Your friend always, Wanda,” the message said.

After settling on a 2 p.m. start time, Hinton responded, “That’s perfect. We will see you then!”

The announcement included a picture of Hinton and his girlfriend with Dench and her late husband Lonnie, who died in April 2020 after contracting COVID-19.

Dench still invited Hinton over for Thanksgiving in 2020, conceding the year had been difficult but adding that it “was really important to me” to continue the accidental tradition.

They kept the 2020 version small and put a photo of Lonnie at the table with a lit candle.

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