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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Helen Elfer

Thanksgiving guest mix-up that turned into friendship enters sixth year of holiday tradition


A heartwarming Thanksgiving tradition is set to continue this year as a guest who was invited to dinner by mistake six years ago and has returned every holiday since, says he’s celebrating with the family again this season.

In 2016, grandmother Wanda Dench meant to text her grandson about the family’s holiday dinner plans, but accidentally messaged stranger Jamal Hinton.

Mr Hinton texted her back to let her know the mistake, with a selfie showing he wasn’t the grandson she’d meant to contact.

He jokingly wrote: “You not my grandma. Can I still get a plate tho?”

Ms Dench responded kindly, telling him: “Of course you can. That’s what grandma’s do...feed everyone.” Mr Hinton posted about the pair’s exchange on Twitter and it went viral.

Then on Thanksgiving Day, Mr Hinton did actually make the journey from Tempe, Arizona to Mesa to join the Dench family for dinner.

The following year, having made firm friends, the unlikely pair got together for Thanksgiving again and have celebrated the holiday together every year since.

In 2020, Ms Dench’s husband, Lonnie, died from Covid, so last Thanksgiving, the family held a small get-together the day after the holiday, reports CBS News. Ms Dench, her grandson, her daughter, Mr Hinton and his girlfriend, Mikaela, met up to keep the tradition alive.

This year, Mr Hinton, who has gained a large social media following since his first viral post, posted a tweet saying: “We are all set for year 6!”

He posted a screenshot of the invitation in which Ms Dench, who is saved in his phone under ‘Grandma Wanda’ asked him and his girlfriend to join her family again for “good food and great conversation”.

Mr Hinton also shared a selfie of himself, Mikaela, Ms Dench, and her late husband in a post which has already garnered more than a million likes.

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