A wholesome mistake made six years ago has turned into a holiday tradition – and a social media sensation. A grandmother who mistakenly invited a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 ended up making a friend, and now the pair have gotten together for the holiday ever year since. This year is no exception.
In 2016, Wanda Dench tried to text her grandson about the family's Thanksgiving dinner plans – only she mistakenly added a stranger to the text message. Jamal Hinton was on the receiving end of the holiday text and jokingly took Dench up on her offer.
"You not my grandma," Hinton wrote back, including a selfie to show he was not the grandson Dench thought she was texting. "Can I still get a plate tho?"
Dench, ever the caring grandmother, replied: "Of course you can. That's what grandma's do...feed everyone." Hinton posted about the funny mixup and it went viral.
And on Thanksgiving day, he actually drove from Tempe, Arizona to Mesa to join the Dench family for the holiday.
In 2017, the unlikely pair got together for Thanksgiving again. And every year since, Hinton and Dench have celebrated the holiday together.
Hinton himself has gained a large social media following since that first viral post, now with a verified Instagram account of more than 92,300 followers and over 108,000 followers on Twitter.
In 2020, he informed followers about some sad news: Dench's husband, Lonnie, had died from COVID-19.
So last Thanksgiving, in honor of Lonnie, the family held a small, pared-down gathering the day after the holiday, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV reports. Dench, her grandson, her daughter, Hinton and his girlfriend, Mikaela, got together to keep the tradition alive.
This year, Hinton kept fans of the tradition up to date. "We are all set for year 6!" he tweeted, sharing a screenshot of their text exchange as per usual. Dench's name is saved in his phone as "Grandma Wanda."
He also shared a selfie of himself, Mikaela, Dench, and her late husband. The story of kindness went viral again – spreading some holiday cheer on social media.