Open Post: Hosted By The Grandma And Her Accidental Thanksgiving Guest Who Are Spending Their 7th Turkey Day Together
While Thanksgiving is sold as the day when we should be thankful for everything and everyone in our lives, many people struggle with complicated familial relationships this time of year. Most of us don’t get to choose our families, but it seems like Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton have done just that. A few years ago, they went viral when Wanda inadvertently texted a Thanksgiving dinner invitation to Jamal that was meant for her grandson. Jamal asked if he could come to dinner anyway, and Wanda didn’t hesitate to welcome him to her table; today will mark the seventh Thanksgiving they’ve spent together.
People says that Wanda and Jamal first broke bread on Thanksgiving 2016. Despite that being the time when political tensions were reaching a fever pitch, things between them went swimmingly, and no one yelled, “WOAH WAIT, SHOULDN’T ALL LIVES MATTER?!” while chucking their fancy Chinet paper plate at the dining room wall. So, they’ve kept the tradition alive and have been warming the internet’s heart since.
The two pals first met in November 2016, when Dench sent her 24-year-old grandson a text inviting him over for Thanksgiving dinner. Unbeknownst to her, though, her grandson had switched his phone number — and Hinton, then 17, got her message instead.
After some initial confusion, and the strangers sent selfies to each other that confirmed the mix-up. But when Hinton asked if he could still come over for dinner, Dench, now 65, texted back, “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do … feed everyone.”
Here’s Jamal assuring everyone that he’s eating at Wanda’s house again this year:
The tale has become such a Thanksgiving staple that Netflix approached the makeshift family about adapting the serendipitous meeting into a movie (OF COURSE!). But Jamal and Wanda say they don’t just do this for the notoriety; they’re genuine friends for life and keep in contact regularly.
The two also appeared in a taped segment on the Today show, Wednesday, where they both discussed the impact their bond has had on their lives.
“He’s literally changed my life and my point of view on young generations about being open to friendships when you think you have nothing in common with somebody,” noted Dench. “But when you just sit and talk to them? Oh my gosh… ”
“I honestly don’t know where I would be sometimes,” Hinton said. “It’s amazing to have her as a friend and as my family. We always talk about — I told her, ‘The cameras and the fame can stop tomorrow and nothing is changing between us.’ ”
“Absolutely,” Dench added. “He’s in my heart for life.”
The two don’t just talk on Thanksgiving, either. They’re in constant contact throughout the year, having dinners and catching up on the phone.
It's time for one of our favorite holiday traditions 🥺 The heartwarming tale of a grandmother mistakenly texting a teenage boy bringing the strangers together for Thanksgiving, has continued for a 7th year — and @kristendahlgren got a chance to catch up with them! pic.twitter.com/24SK9xSDJy
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 23, 2022
So, there’s always hope that you might just be one mistaken text away from not having to get drunk as fuck to endure a dry-ass turkey dinner with your neck-bearded uncle who isn’t legally allowed to own a firearm but makes sure to keep his NRA hat on at the table. Happy Thanksgiving!