A grandmother who accidentally invited a 17-year-old stranger to her Thanksgiving celebrations via text will spend her fourth holiday with him this year.
This year, Arizona-based duo Wanda Dench, 62, and Jamal Hinton, now 20, will sit down alongside one another for Turkey Day after they formed a close bond during that initial accidental dinner.
Their traditional get-together stems from a viral 2016 text exchange, in which Wanda sent an invite meant for her grandson to Jamal, who replied, ‘You not my grandma. Can I still get a plate tho?’
Keeping the internet happy: Twitter users are still obsessed with the story of Arizona-based Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench, pictured, who became friends after a text mixup in 2016
‘2019 coming soon’: Wanda and Jamal , pictured center, revealed that they will spend Thanksgiving together again this year with their respective significant others
Then: Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench snapped their first ever Thanksgiving selfie together in 2016, pictured, when she accidentally invited him over for dinner
Wrong number: Wanda first showed what it meant to have holiday spirit when she accidentally sent a Thanksgiving dinner invitation to Jamal in 2016, thinking he was her grandchild
Wanda told him to come along, and he has been to her home for Thanksgiving ever since.
On Twitter, Jamal recently teased that he would be returning to her house again this year, writing: ‘2019 coming soon don’t worry.’
Evidently starting even more gall memories together, Jamal, Wanda, her husband Lonnie and Jamal’s girlfriend Mikaela recently attended a pumpkin patch too.
These days, Jamal and Wanda try to see each other once every two months.
‘We’ve become really good friends,’ Jamal told The New York Post this week.
‘Unfortunately, our schedules don’t usually line up too well and we live an hour and a half apart, but we have managed to have a couple dinners at her house and restaurants.’
It’s been a big year for Jamal, as he is planning to move into a new apartment with his girlfriend the day before Thanksgiving.
Basically family: Last month, Wanda and her husband Lonnie, pictured, hung out at a nearby pumpkin patch with Jamal and his girlfriend Mikaela
All smiles: Thousands of people still follow along on Twitter, keen for updates on the duo’s lasting friendship
Tradition: Wanda and Jamal continue to delight social media users by sharing selfies every Thanksgiving since their accidental introduction
Naturally, they still text frequently – sticking to the medium that kicked it off in the first place.
‘We text to check on each other,’ Jamal said.
A Twitter album showing Wanda and Jamal’s annual get-together selfies has been liked an incredible 582,000 times.
‘We are both really passionate and love talking about our story and how many people have reached out to us and told us how it affects them,’ Jamal said.
‘We are both very happy and grateful that we could be the centerpiece to such an amazing story and bring joy and faith in so many different people.
‘I love when people tell me it restores their faith in humanity which I get a lot,’ he added. ‘It makes me feel good knowing something I was a part of affected so many people in a good way.’
Fans: Twitter users have been invested in the surprise friendship for four years now
People have been stopping by his feed to make sure plans are still in place for a 2019 meetup.
‘This is honestly one of my favorite things to come from the internet. So wholesome,’ one user praised.
‘Literally just came to see if there were plans for 19,’ said another.
‘Bruh, your extended turkey day family will be at your wedding some day and I’ll be ugly crying in the back somewhere,’ chimed in one male user.
Wanda previously said she has made Jamal her ‘honorary grandson’ since her legendary mix-up in 2016 and has been more than happy to have him sit down at her Thanksgiving feast again and again.
Making memories: Wanda and Jamal pictured breaking bread together on the holiday in 2018
Year-round: Thanksgiving isn’t the only time Jamal sees Wanda; in July 2018 he posted a selfie with her to show that they were having lunch together
‘It was really nice having everybody here,’ Dench told the Arizona Republic in 2017.
‘We got to laugh about last year and reminisce about how it all blew up on our phone and how I had to change my number. We had a laugh and a good time.’
Back in 2016, Jamal delved more into the fateful occurrence with People magazine.
He initially thought the message he received was ‘pretty funny, but kinda weird.’
‘The text said, ‘Thanksgiving at my house’ and it was from a grandma, but I was like, ‘When did my grandma learn to text!? So I asked her for a picture and it definitely was not my grandma.’
The text was intended for Wanda’s actual grandson, then-24-year-old Brandon Burgoyne.
Friends forever: Jamal and Wanda are pictured here in 2017 on their second annual holiday meetup
Time: Jamal, then 17-years-old, joined perfect stranger Wanda in 2016, pictured
‘Brandon recently switched his number and I actually ended up getting his old number,’ Jamal explained at the time.
‘So it was all a big mixup. She meant to text him. It was so unexpected, but she was just so sweet about it,’ Jamal said.
‘It was a reminder that there are still some good people left in this world.’
In 2016, as their exchange went viral, they met up before Thanksgiving and instantly realized they had a ‘great bond’.
Jamal told People: ‘She is a very sweet lady, she told me her husband was a veteran and she always invited his friends over for dinner, so she’s used to having a lot of people over.
‘I just got a vibe from her that made me feel at home.’