In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving in 2016, 59-year-old grandma Wanda Dench texted her 24-year-old grandson with the official invitation.
“Thanksgiving dinner is at my house on Nov. 24 at 3:00pm. Let me know if you’re coming. Hope to see you all,” she wrote.
Wanda’s grandson never ended up getting the text. That’s because it went to a number belonging to then-17-year-old Jamal Hinton. He asked who was texting and Wanda responded, “Your grandma,” so Jamal asked for proof with a photo and he quickly found out a stranger texted him by mistake! He let her know right away – picture included – that he was not who she meant to text.
Jamal then asked if he could still come over for Thanksgiving, and Wanda said, “Of course you can. That’s what grandma’s do. Feed every one.”
See their 2016 text exchange below.
Somebody grandma is coming in clutch this year!! Ayee!!! pic.twitter.com/QGrx83nHLl
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 15, 2016
Their interaction went viral and people online were wondering if Jamal actually took Wanda up on her offer. Well, it turns out he did! And since then, they’ve made it a tradition. Jamal and his girlfriend Mikaela have gone to Wanda’s house every year for Thanksgiving dinner since 2016.
2016, 2017…… 2018 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0ZNA54uGAS
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 23, 2018
In fact, they don’t only see each other on Thanksgiving. Jamal told The New York Post in 2019 that the two try to get together “about once every two months,” even though they live a few towns apart. Jamal lives in Phoenix and Wanda lives in Mesa.
“We’ve become really good friends,” he told The Post. “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.”
In October 2019 Jamal and Mikaela went to a pumpkin patch with Wanda and her husband Lonnie.
We went to the pumpkin patch today 🎃 pic.twitter.com/91q9yMJAoa
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) October 26, 2019
2019 coming soon don’t worry 😊 2 months away pic.twitter.com/g0YPITzYJP
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) September 19, 2019
At 2018’s feast, Jamal and Mikaela made a Q & A video with Wanda because so many people online had questions for her! You can tell right when they walk in that Wanda and Lonnie love spending time with them. Lonnie sees them and says, “Hey! My brother!”
Sadly, Lonnie passed away in April 2020 from COVID-19, so last year’s holiday looked very different. Confirming his passing, Jamal wrote, “As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it… he passed away Sunday morning but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!”
Wanda and Jamal got together the week before Thanksgiving to celebrate so they’d be healthy enough to see their own family members on the actual holiday.
Jamal tweeted on November 14 that they are “all set for year 6” and included a screenshot of the text Wanda sent inviting him over.
We are all set for year 6! 🦃 pic.twitter.com/wEQioizWGd
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) November 14, 2021
It warms our heart that after all these years, they still celebrate Thanksgiving together!