'All set': Tradition continues after wrong number text 6 years ago

·4-min read

A man who once got accidentally invited to Thanksgiving by a complete stranger has kept the tradition going.

Back in 2016, Jamal Hinton got a text from an unknown number, letting him know the details about a mysterious Thanksgiving dinner.

Confused, Mr Hinton asked who it was.

"Your grandma," the response said. 

After receiving the picture he asked for, Mr Hinton concluded the woman who had messaged him was not his grandmother, but he asked for a "plate" anyway.

"Of course you can. That's what grandmas do... feed everyone," the owner of the unknown number, Wanda Dench, said.

Mr Hinton was 17 at the time and did end up going to Ms Dench's house for Thanksgiving.

“I just clicked when I met him and first talked to him,” the grandmother told NBC News back in 2016. 

“Oh my gosh, I want to get to know this guy.”

A photo of Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton with a screenshot of his text conversation with her.
Jamal Hinton will be joining Wanda Dench for Thanksgiving again this year, marking six years since she accidentally invited him over. Source: Twitter/@Jamalhinton12

'We are all set for year 6'

Mr Hinton has spent every Thanksgiving with the Dench family and confirmed on Twitter he would be joining them again in 2021.

A screenshot shared by Mr Hinton to Twitter shows Ms Dench invited him and his family to Thanksgiving.

He told her he would love to and she said she couldn't wait to see him.

"We are all set for year 6!" he confirmed on Twitter.

Many rejoiced on Twitter, one person said it was their "favourite Twitter tradition" as the friendship has been well-documented on social media.

Ms Dench's name is saved in Mr Hinton's phone as "Grandma Wanda".

Heartbreak in unlikely friendship

The friendship Mr Hinton and the Dench family seems to go far beyond just seeing each other every year for the holiday.

While there may have been speculation the friendship was all for show, Mr Hinton put such rumours to bed in May 2019, sharing a picture of him, his girlfriend, Ms Dench and her husband, Lonnie.

"For everyone who thinks it’s just for the cameras and social media!" he wrote. 

"We are so blessed to have Wanda and Lonnie in our lives and we all are so happy to know our story has touched so many people."

Jamal Hinton and his girlfriend, Mikaela, pictured with Wanda and Lonnie Dench.
The story became a viral sensation and Jamal Hinton has become friends with Wanda Dench and her family. Source: Twitter/@Jamalhinton12

Last year in April, Mr Hinton announced on Twitter both Ms Dench and Lonnie had contracted Covid-19.

He then later confirmed Lonnie had died after being hospitalised.

"Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!" Mr Hinton said back in April 2020.

Mr Hinton joined the Dench family for their Thanksgiving celebrations back in November last year, without Lonnie.

"Thank you @wandadench for such an amazing celebration! You are such a blessing to this world. We miss you Lonnie," he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Hinton shared a picture of Ms Dench, holding a picture of her husband, with her daughter and her grandson, himself and his girlfriend, Mikaela, of the 2020 celebration.

The group celebrated on the Friday before Thanksgiving, so they could get tested for Covid-19 and then celebrate the holiday with their own families.

"At first it was sad. We had a photo of Lonnie at the table with a candle lit, and we were all shaky in the beginning but it lasted five minutes before we were back to ourselves," Mr Hinton told CNN last year. 

"We just told jokes and stories and shared our memories of Lonnie, so it was amazing." 

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