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Grandma who Accidentally Invited a Teen to 2016 Thanksgiving Keep Tradition Going for 7th Year

An Arizona-based Grandmom accidentally invited a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner in 2016, and they became friends for life.

Wanda Dench is a 65-year-old granny from Arizona who texted her 24-year-old grandson to invite him to her for Thanksgiving dinner. Her grandson had switched his contact number, and Wanda was unaware. So, her text message was received by a teenager, Jamal Hinton, who was only 17 years old at that time.

According to PEOPLE, “After some initial confusion, 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.”

The duo met for the first time at Thanksgiving 2016; since then, they have continued to have dinners together every Thanksgiving.

“Last year, Hinton, now 23, announced he and Dench were working with Netflix on a film about their heartwarming holiday story.”

This year, like all the previous years before, 23-year-old Hinton shared a photo with Dench on his Instagram and wrote,

“To answer all your questions, yes, Thanksgiving year seven is planned out! See you guys Thursday!”

Recently, the duo also appeared in a recorded segment on Today Show and shared their story and how one ‘wrong text message’ changed their lives forever.

“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,” said Dench. “But when you just sit and talk to them? Oh my gosh … “

“I honestly don’t know where I would be sometimes,” Hinton added.

“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 pitched in. “He’s in my heart for life.”

The duo doesn’t just hang out on Thanksgiving; they spend a lot of their time together throughout the year.

Jamal, who is in a committed relationship, started a new business earlier this year and put Wanda on his advertising billboard to honor their precious friendship.

“I’ve always told her whatever I’m doing, she’s a part of, no matter what it is,” he told NBC News.

The 23-year-old took Dench to get her first tattoo and said they plan to get matching tattoos next.

Hinton also shared that when Wanda’s husband, Lonnie, died in April 2020, he and his girlfriend, Mikaela stayed with her and ensured she wasn’t alone during her tough time.

“Next year, Thanksgiving will look a little different,” Hinton said. “As Dench is retiring and planning on moving a few hours away. But it’s okay, I will drive to have dinner with her just like every year. That will not change.”

Wanda said she is not so good with texting, “He is big on texting me. But I’m always like, ‘Just call me,” she laughed.

“We’re going to work on your texting,” said Jamal.

Share Your Thoughts:

What are your thoughts on Jamal and Wanda’s story? Let us know in the comment section.

Sources: PEOPLEToday Show

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