The Thanksgiving tradition that began with a false text lives on for a seventh year


Just two days before Thanksgiving, Jamal Hinton told fans what they wanted to hear: “To answer all your questions, yes, Thanksgiving year 7 is on the way! Until Thursday!” he posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

Fans had been waiting with bated breath for Hinton to confirm his plans for an annual Thanksgiving dinner with Wanda Dench – a now 65-year-old grandmother who accidentally texted him six years ago inviting him to Thanksgiving.

As people fear the fate of Twitter amid Elon Musk’s recent takeover and the turmoil that has followed, some users have expressed concern that they may miss the long-awaited selfie of Hinton and Dench, the unlikely couple post on social media each year.

“I hope Twitter survives at least until next week so we can get our annual update from them,” said one fan wrote Friday.

“Can Twitter hold out until Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench share their annual Thanksgiving photo?” another tweeted November 12th. “That’s only DAYS away.”

Though her selfie hasn’t been posted yet, it’s clear that the touching Thanksgiving tradition is indeed being continued for a seventh straight year – and the internet is ecstatic.

“This is now a Thanksgiving staple like yams and mac & cheese,” someone tweeted after Hinton confirmed their plans.

The story began in November 2016 when Dench accidentally texted Hinton, thinking it was her grandson. She invited him to Thanksgiving.

When Hinton, then 17, got the message from an unknown number, he asked who it was. Dench replied, “Your grandma.”

“Grandma? Can I have a picture?” replied Hinton. He received a selfie from Dench, who he had never seen before.

Hinton texted back with a laughing emoji, “You’re not my grandma,” then jokingly asked, “Can I still have a plate?”

Dench replied seriously, “Of course you can. That’s what [grandmas] feed everyone.”

Hinton accepted the invitation, and so began an enduring tradition—and an enduring friendship. Every year since the text message mixup, Hinton has attended Dench’s Thanksgiving dinner at her home in Mesa, Arizona — a 25-minute drive from where he lives in Phoenix.

After nearly a decade of spending Thanksgiving together with their respective families, people still haven’t stopped swooning over Hinton and Dench’s heartwarming bond. Year after year, devoted fans adore their annual selfie.

They have supported each other through difficulties, including the sudden death of Dench’s husband, Lonnie Dench, to whom he has been married for 42 years and who also developed a close relationship with Hinton and was an active participant in their Thanksgiving tradition. He died in April 2020 from Covid-19 complications.

Before her first Thanksgiving dinner without Lonnie Dench, Hinton tweeted: “Thanksgiving won’t be the same again, but we’ll make the best of it.”

“I don’t have my beloved Lonnie with me, but I will be with my family who I love very much,” Dench reiterated in a tweetShe shared a photo of her family along with Hinton and his girlfriend Mikaela.

Dench in September got her first tattoo to commemorate her husband and parents, and of course Hinton accompanied her to the appointment.

“I have three shooting stars. Everyone represents my guardian angels in heaven – my husband who was about integrity, my mother who was brave and my father who was about unconditional love,” said Dench later tweeted.

Hinton and Dench’s feel-good friendship is about to become the subject of a dispute upcoming Netflix movie entitled “The Thanksgiving Text”. Hinton announced the partnership last December, although few details – including the release date – have been released.

“We’re excited to share our story with the world,” Dench and Hinton said in a joint statement. “We hope it inspires more people to socialize and make connections that they wouldn’t normally make.”

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