An Arizona grandmother and the stranger she accidentally invited to her Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 celebrate the holiday together for the sixth year in a row.
Wanda Dench, 64, of Mesa, made international headlines five years ago when she texted Jamal Hinton about her dinner plans, thinking it was her grandson.
Hinton, who was 17 at the time, eventually went to Dench’s party and has continued to do so every year since.
The 22-year-old took Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that their annual Thanksgiving dinner was still in progress, writing, “We’re all set for Year 6!”
Incredible: Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton (pictured with late husband Lonnie and his girlfriend Mikaela) are scheduled to spend their sixth Thanksgiving dinner together
The tradition lives on: Hinton took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm their annual Thanksgiving dinner was still on and wrote, “We’re all set for Year 6!”
Hinton shared a screenshot of a text he received from Dench, who invited him, his girlfriend Mikaela and his family to her home.
“I would be delighted if you, Mikaela, and your family would come to my house on Thanksgiving Day to share good food and good conversation. Always your friend, Wanda,” she wrote.
“Yes, we’d love to!” he answered. “What time did you think?”
Dench said they would be having dinner at 2pm and added, “Can’t wait to see you guys.
Aww: The 22-year-old added a screenshot of Dench’s text message inviting him, his girlfriend Mikaela and his family
Going viral: Hinton was only 22 when Dench accidentally texted him inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner in 2016
Hilarious: Hinton explained that she had texted the wrong person, but then asked if he could “still get a sign?”
Hinton also shared a photo of herself, Mikaela, Dench and Dench’s late husband Lonnie, who had passed away from COVID-19 in April 2020.
The unlikely friends became public figures after Dench’s accidental Thanksgiving invitation went viral in 2016.
Hinton explained that she had texted the wrong person, but then he asked if he could “still get a plate?”
“Of course you can, grandmas do, feed everyone,” Dench replied quickly.
When Hinton came to dinner that year, she hugged him as soon as he arrived at her house.
What a story: Hinton ended up going to Dench’s party and has continued to do so every year since then
Over the years: Dench and Hinton’s annual meetings are documented on social media to the delight of millions of people around the world
Too cute: Hinton (pictured in 2018) refers to Dench as his ‘other grandma’
The couple have since become close friends and celebrate the holidays together every year. Their annual gatherings are documented on social media to the delight of millions of people around the world.
However, the couple’s 2020 meeting was tinged with sadness, as Dench’s beloved husband Lonnie had passed away that spring.
Dench and Hinton shared an early Thanksgiving meal at her Mesa home, where they paid tribute to her late husband.
“I always remember Lonnie looking at things on the bright side,” Hinton said The New York Times. “He would want us to celebrate his life instead of hating COVID and hating everything.”
Hinton attended Dench’s early Thanksgiving dinner with Mikaela, while Dench’s daughter and grandson also attended the gathering, where Lonnie was fondly remembered.
Loss: Hinton and Dench’s Thanksgiving dinner last year was tinged with sadness as her beloved husband Lonnie passed away in April
Heartbreaking: Lonnie died of COVID-19 on April 5, 2020, just days after contracting the virus. Dench paid tribute to her late husband at dinner
Reminder: The grandmother placed a photo of her deceased husband on the table and lit a candle for him
The grandmother placed a photo of her deceased husband on the table and lit a candle for him. Arizona family captured the poignant moment as Dench thanked him for the years she’d spent with Lonnie.
“Thank you for all the blessings and thank you so much for having Lonnie in my life. I miss him, but I know he’s in a good place. So to everyone here, I love you and have a great Thanksgiving. Amen,” she said before the food was served.
Lonnie died of COVID-19 on April 5, just days after contracting the virus.
After his death, Dench shared a message about how much love her husband had for others.
“He had the truest heart of love, like no other,” she posted on social media. “He did so many acts of kindness that no one had ever heard of. He was my hero. And because of him I have become a better person.’