Thanksgiving is really about bringing people together.
The heartwarming story of a grandmother who mistakenly texts a teenager, bringing the two strangers together for the food-filled holiday, has continued for a seventh year.
On Tuesday, November 22, Jamal Hinton shared a photo with Wanda Dench outside The Cheesecake Factory restaurant, revealing that the two are continuing their viral tradition.
“To answer all your questions, yes, the 7th year of Thanksgiving is planned! See you on Thursday!” she captioned the photo with turkey and black heart emojis.
The comments section was abuzz with joy and excitement, with one user calling the gathering “the Thanksgiving tradition I never knew I needed.”
Several users said they look forward to an update on the heartwarming story every year, and another suggested that Hallmark should make a Hinton and Dench-inspired movie.
In 2016, Dench accidentally sent Hinton a text message, telling him that Thanksgiving dinner would be at his house on November 24 at 3 p.m. When the teen asked who sent him the message, Dench replied, “Your grandmother, ” with an old lady emoji.
Hinton responded by asking for a photo to prove that the number really belonged to his grandmother. After she sends him a selfie at work, he responds with a headshot of her and a text saying that she’s not her grandmother.
“Can I still get a plate?” Hinton asked.
“Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do…feed everyone,” she replied with a cake emoji.
After Hinton shared the interaction on social media, her post went viral, and hundreds of thousands of people have followed the couple’s story since their first Thanksgiving meal together in Mesa, Arizona, six years ago.
Even in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, the two found a reduced way to meet. However, that year was different as Dench’s husband, Lonnie, died earlier that spring due to complications from Covid-19.
Both Dench and her husband were diagnosed with Covid-19 around the same time, but the virus sent Lonnie to the hospital with pneumonia. Shortly after hearing the news, Hinton took to Twitter to raise awareness and support. After Lonnie’s passing, Hinton updated his followers, adding that “Wanda told me that all the love and support she was receiving put a big smile on her face, so I thank each and every one of you for that!”
About a week later, Hinton shared a video of him at lunch with the couple, captioning the tweet, “We miss you Lonnie.”
Dench has said she feels “fate intervened” when she sent that accidental text years ago.
“Jamal taught me that age makes absolutely no difference. I love all my grandchildren and children, but we are all from different generations and we all remember different things,” he said. “But when Jamal came along, my husband and I, him and his girlfriend, we would go out to dinner all year long and lose track of time. Once we were in a restaurant for three or four hours and I couldn’t believe we were there that long. Let’s keep talking! It was such a wonderful conversation.”
“That’s when I realized 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 make it a point to talk and get to know them,” she continued.
“He has changed my life a lot, I know that.”