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Thanksgiving is here, and that means family gatherings, eating turkey and pumpkin pie, Black Friday deals, travel craze, and also checking in on “Thanksgiving Grandma” Wanda Dench and the then-teenager she mistakenly invited over for dinner, Jamal Hinton. Ever since that serendipitous message, the pair have become good friends and meet up every Thanksgiving. Going strong into their 7th year, Hinton has shared that they will have dinner together once again. “To answer all your questions, yes Thanksgiving year 7 is planned out! See you guys Thursday!” he shared on Instagram.
Their story began in 2016, when Dench thought she had sent a text to her grandson inviting him over for dinner, not realizing he had changed his phone number. After a confusing exchange of messages and selfies, Hinton replied “You not my grandma. Can I still get a plate tho?” To which Dench replied, “Of course you can. That's what grandmas do… feed everyone.” Hinton posted some screenshots of the funny conversation on Twitter with the message, “Somebody grandma is coming in clutch this year!! Ayee!!!” boosting the exchange into viral status.
While it was just a humorous case of a text sent erroneously in the beginning, it spawned into an endearing real-life encounter. Hinton, then 17, drove to Dench's place, about an hour away, and shared dinner with her. This formed a lifelong friendship, and they've met up every Thanksgiving since.
Although they have gone through difficult things, such as their first dinner after the passing of Dench's husband from COVID-19 complications in 2020, the last 12 months have brought them some happy occasions. In December, they shared that they have partnered with Netflix to tell their story in the form of a feature film, and in September, Hinton took Dench to get her first tattoo at the age of 65. Their bond even had Twitter users worrying about the survival of the social media platform, hoping it'd last long enough for them to get their yearly update on Dench and Hinton.
Dench says that “fate stepped in” when she sent that message all those years ago, and credits Hinton for teaching him that age made no difference when it comes to friends. “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,” she says. “He’s changed my life a lot, I know that.”
“Thanksgiving Grandma” Wanda Dench and the then-teenager she mistakenly invited over for dinner, Jamal Hinton, will gather again for the 7th year in a row.
i hope twitter survives at least til next week so we can get our annual update from them pic.twitter.com/YVULRfZUKz
— Auntie Can (@spinnellii) November 18, 2022
The last 12 months have brought them some happy occasions. In December, they shared that they have partnered with Netflix to tell their story in the form of a feature film.
I am very excited to announce our new partnership with Netflix. We thank every single one of you for your love and support in our journey the last 6 years. We can’t wait to tell our story on the big screen! 🎥🍾 pic.twitter.com/0heCmEWMDM
— Jamal Hinton (@Jamalhinton12) December 2, 2021
In September, Hinton even took Dench to get her first tattoo at age 65.
Got my first tattoo at the age of 65. Guess who went with me? pic.twitter.com/b0lj2D8fc0
— Wanda D (@wandadench) September 8, 2022