When the grandma, assuming she had texted her grandson, invited a high school senior to Thanksgiving, she unintentionally created a holiday tradition.
For the sixth year in a row, Arizona grandma Wanda Dench will have Thanksgiving dinner with Jamal Hinton, a young man she invited through text after mistaking him for her grandson.
Hinton was a complete stranger in his high school classrom at the time.
She will also sit down to a Christmas dinner for the second year in a row at a table with an empty chair, symbolizing the seat taken by her loving husband, Lonnie, who died in April 2020.
Wanda and Jamal’s amazing friendship began in 2016, when her erroneous text became an internet sensation.
Dench believed she was sending her grandchild a Thanksgiving invitation, but the adolescent who got it had never met her before.
Jamal, a 17-year-old high school senior at the time, was in class when he received the invitation on his smartphone. He didn’t recognize the phone number, so he responded by writing to find out who had sent it.
Dench said, “Your grandmother.” “Grandma?” Hinton was the one who responded. “May I have a photograph?”
Dench said to himself, “That’s odd.” She did, however, take and SMS a selfie at work.
And it was at this point that things became quite amusing.
“You’re not my grandmother,” Hinton clarified. “However, can I still receive a plate?”
Dench was mortified by her blunder, but she recovered swiftly.
She said, “Of course you can.” “That’s what grandmothers do… feed everyone,” says the narrator.
Dench is a white woman. Hinton is a black person.
The adolescent grabbed a snapshot of the chat and shared it on Twitter, where it received over 150,000 retweets.
Dench had no idea Hinton had recorded their conversation and placed it online.
Her phone then blew up. Because her phone number was posted in the screen images, she got over 600 text messages and hundreds of voicemails in only a few days.
Her phone number has to be changed.
Hinton and his girlfriend have been spending Thanksgiving with Dench and her family ever since. Even last year, when Dench wasn’t feeling too festive. Her spouse had died of coronavirus complications the previous spring.
Dench, aged 64, recently told Inside Edition Digital, “I knew it was going to be challenging.” “With COVID, social isolation, quarantines, and masks, I knew it was going to be difficult. Jamal and I were discussing it.”
They opted to keep the gathering to a manageable size. “There were just five of us. My daughter placed a candle next to my husband’s photo on the table “and the group toasted friends who were present as well as those who were not.
Dench is going all out this year. She’ll feed 12 people a turkey, ham, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and several side dishes.
Hinton will, of course, be present, as will his girlfriend, Mikaela. Hinton, now 21, is a successful water-softener system salesperson, according to Dench. She stated she is as proud as a grandma could be of him since he has developed into a great young man.
She anticipates a sad Christmas gathering this year.
“We had been married for 42 years. He was unquestionably my soul match “she stated The previous year “I was overcome with emotion, but I knew he was present in spirit. He was ecstatic with all of the media exposure Jamal and I received.” she stated.
“Every day, I miss him. Every day, I tell him I love him. I wish he could be here to take part in it. I’m aware that he’s always close by, so I just keep placing one foot in front of the other and going ahead “Dench said.
Hinton’s surprise appearance in her life caused her and her husband immense joy.
“It’s precious to meet someone as amazing as he is, and the bond we’ve built,” she remarked.
Hinton is a writer “For his age, he is mature. He is a person who is highly loving and sensitive to others “Dench elaborated.
“I used to wear a lot of pink when I was younger. He gave me a pink sweater one year, and I asked him, “How did you know about the pink?” ‘You wear it all the time, and you always appear to light up when you wear it,’ he said.”
Despite the age difference between herself and Hinton and his girlfriend, Dench claims the two are the best of friends, spending hours in restaurants just talking.
“They had a significant impact on my life. I’m really blown away by them “she stated “With this generation, I have nothing to be concerned about. They’ll be alright, I’m sure.”
But for Thanksgiving 2022, she might do things a little differently.
“I’m going to make Jamal have it the next time,” she joked.