Arizona strangers’ accidental Thanksgiving tradition continues seven years on

From left: Wanda and Lonnie Dench, Jamal Hinton,and Michaela  (Instagram)
From left: Wanda and Lonnie Dench, Jamal Hinton,and Michaela (Instagram)

In 2016, a 65-year-old grandma named Wanda Dench accidentally messaged Jamal Hinton, a total stranger, instead of her grandchild, inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner.

When the pair realised Ms Dench had messaged the wrong number, Mr Hinton jokingly messaged back: “You’re not my grandma,” adding, “Can I still get a plate [though]?”

The heartwarming tale saw the loving grandma reply: “Of course you can. That’s what [grandmas] do... Feed everyone.”

The two Arizonians ended up having Thanksgiving dinner together that year, making headlines across the globe.

It has been seven years since then, and a lot has changed in both Hinton’s and Dench’s lives, including the passing of Dench’s beloved husband, Lonnie, during the pandemic.

But the friendship between Dench and Hinton has endured the test of time and they’re currently getting ready to celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving.

The internet-famous duo confirmed the news on Instagram, with Hinton sharing a photo of the two with the caption: “To answer all your questions, yes Thanksgiving year 7 is planned out! See you guys Thursday!”

Talking about the impact their unexpected friendship has had on her life, Dench once told Today: “Jamal taught me that age made absolutely no difference.”

Remembering the double date they had with Jamal and his girlfriend Mikaela, she explained: “That’s when it dawned on me that there doesn’t have to be a generation gap to have friendships.

“So now I look at a lot of young people in a different light than I used to and I make it a point to talk and get to know them.

“He’s changed my life a lot, I know that.”

And, apparently, they are already planning next year’s Thanksgiving. So the heartwarming tradition they have created doesn’t seem like it will end any time soon.