The story of Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as turkey and pumpkin pie at this point. Almost six years after an accidental text brought these two strangers together for the holiday (and the entire internet), it’s safe to say they’re strangers no more.

Back in 2016 when he was just 17 years old, Hinton received a text from an unsaved number outlining some Thanksgiving Day plans. Since he didn’t recognize the number, he asked who the sender was.

“Your grandma,” Dench replied, not realizing she had not, in fact, texted her actual grandson.


Though it became clear rather quickly that the text was sent to the wrong person, Hinton asked if he could still join for the meal and, being the true blue grandma she is, Dench was more than happy to feed him.

Hinton shared photos of the conversation on Twitter, and the whole story very quickly went viral. And every year since, Hinton has joined the Dench family for their annual Turkey Day celebration.

It’s honestly one of the most heartwarming stories to ever go viral, and the fact that the two of them have continued to be a part of each other’s lives after one mistaken text is a true testament to the power of humanity.

In an interview with TODAY last year, Dench opened up about how much her serendipitous friendship with Hinton has changed her life for the better.

“Jamal taught me that age made absolutely no difference,” she said. “I love all of my grandkids and kids, but we all are different generations and we all reminiscence about different things. But when Jamal came along, my husband and I and him and his girlfriend, we would go out to dinner throughout the year together and we would just lose all track of time.”

She said that generation gaps don’t have to define relationships—especially when you truly care about someone.

“He’s changed my life a lot, I know that.”

Tragically, a beloved member of the blended family passed away last year from Covid at the beginning of the pandemic. Lonnie, Dench’s husband, still has a metaphorical place at the Thanksgiving table with Hinton and the rest of her family.

In case you’re not crying yet (and believe me, I can barely read the words I’m typing), you will be by the time you finish reading Dench’s sweet invitation to Hinton and his girlfriend for this year’s dinner.

“It would bring me great joy if you, Mikaela, and your family would come to my house on Thanksgiving day to share good food and great conversation. Your friend always, Wanda.”