An Arizona grandmother and the stranger she accidentally invited to her Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 are celebrating the holiday together for the sixth year in a row.
Wanda Dench, 64, from Mesa, made international headlines five years ago when she sent a text message about her dinner plans to Jamal Hinton thinking it was her grandson.
Hinton, who was 17 at the time, ended up going to Dench’s celebration, and he has continued to do so every year since.
The 22-year-old took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that their annual Thanksgiving dinner was still on, writing: ‘We are all set for year 6!’
Incredible: Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton (pictured with her late husband Lonnie and his girlfriend Mikaela) are slated to spend their sixth Thanksgiving dinner together
The tradition lives on: Hinton took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that their annual Thanksgiving dinner was still on, writing: ‘We are all set for year 6!’
Hinton shared a screenshot of a text message he received from Dench, who invited him, his girlfriend Mikaela, and his family over to her house.
‘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,’ she wrote.
‘Yes we would love to!’ he responded. ‘What time were you thinking?’
Dench said they’d be having dinner at 2:00 p.m., adding: ‘Can’t wait to see you guys.
Aww: The 22-year-old included a screenshot of Dench’s text message inviting him, his girlfriend Mikaela, and his family
Going viral: Hinton was just 22 when Dench accidentally sent him a text message inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner in 2016
Hilarious: Hinton explained that she had texted the wrong person, but he then asked if he could ‘still get a plate tho?’
Hinton also shared a photo of himself, Mikaela, Dench, and Dench’s late husband Lonnie, who had died from COVID-19 in April 2020.
The unlikely pals became public figures after Dench’s accidental Thanksgiving invitation went viral in 2016.
Hinton explained that she had texted the wrong person, but he then asked if he could ‘still get a plate tho?’
‘Of course you can, that’s what grandmas do, feed everyone’ Dench quickly replied.
When Hinton showed up for dinner that year, she hugged him as soon as he arrived at her house.
What a story: Hinton ended up going to Dench’s celebration, and he has continued to do so every year since
Throughout the years: Dench and Hinton’s annual meet-ups are documented on social media to the delight of millions across the world
Too cute: Hinton (pictured in 2018) refers to Dench as his ‘other grandma’
The pair have since become firm friends and celebrate the holiday together each year. Their annual meet-ups are documented on social media to the delight of millions around the world.
However, the pair’s 2020 get-together was tinged with sadness, as Dench’s beloved husband Lonnie had passed away that spring.
Dench and Hinton shared an early Thanksgiving meal at her home in Mesa, where they paid tribute to her late spouse.
‘I always remember Lonnie looking at the bright side of things,’ Hinton told The New York Times. ‘He would want us to celebrate his life instead of hating COVID and hating everything.’
Hinton attended Dench’s early Thanksgiving dinner with Mikaela, while Dench’s daughter and grandson were also present at the gathering, where Lonnie was warmly remembered.
Loss: Hinton and Dench’s Thanksgiving dinner was tinged with sadness last year, as her beloved husband Lonnie had passed away that April
Heartbreaking: Lonnie died from COVID-19 on April 5, 2020, just days after contracting the virus. Dench paid tribute to her late husband during the dinner
Memory: The grandmother placed a photo of her late husband on the table and lit a candle for him
The grandmother placed a photo of her late husband on the table and lit a candle for him. Arizona Family captured the poignant moment Dench gave thanks for the years she spent with Lonnie.
‘Thank you for all the blessings, and thank you so much for having Lonnie in my life. I miss him, but I know he’s in a good place. So to everybody here, I love you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Amen,’ she stated before the food was served.
Lonnie died from COVID-19 on April 5, just days after contracting the virus.
Following his death, Dench shared a message about how much love her husband had for others.
‘He had the truest heart of love, like no other,’ she posted on social media. ‘He did so many acts of kindness that no one ever heard about. He was my hero. And I’m a better person because of him.’