Accidental Invite Tradition Continues with Grandma and Young Man

Grandma Accidental Invite 2019You might remember the story of a grandma and the young stranger she “accidentally” invited to dinner from when we shared it last year. If that’s the case, we wanted to provide an update. But in case you missed it, here’s a quick recap:

In 2016, Jamal Hinton, then 17, of Tempe, Arizona, received a text one day while sitting in class. He didn’t recognize the number, so naturally, the message, which included the time and date of a Thanksgiving day gathering, seemed strange. When Jamal texted back to ask who the text was from, he was surprised to read the reply, “It’s your grandma.” Fairly certain that the sender was not, in fact, his grandma, he asked for a picture – which he promptly received. The sender was definitely NOT his grandma – but Jamal decided that a little humor was in order, so he sent a picture back showing that he was not the intended grandson, but asked, “Can I still get a plate, tho?” The sender, who turned out to be Wanda Dench from Mesa, Arizona, surprised everyone, including Jamal, with a resounding “yes,” because as she later said, “That’s what grandmas do…[they] feed every one.”

Hinton accepted the invitation from his mysterious grandma and tweeted their initial text exchange, followed by a selfie of the pair on Thanksgiving Day in 2016. The story went viral as hundreds of thousands of viewers around the world tuned in to see what would happen next. Well, what happened is that the pair has continued their Thanksgiving tradition – even into 2019. Jamal and his girlfriend, Mikaela, have shared this special day with Dench and her family every year since that first fateful text.

Jamal and Wanda Collage
Jamal and Wanda celebrating Thanksgiving in 2016, 2017 and 2018. IMAGE: Jamal Hinton/Twitter

What we love the most about this story is not just the fact that pair share a special meal every year, but that they continue their relationship between the holidays. Hinton spoke to CBS News before Thanksgiving Day and said, “The first year I went I never would have thought we’d even stay in touch but once we actually got to know each other I knew we’d be good friends…I don’t see any end in sight to be honest.”

And so for 2019, instead of heading to the Dench clan for the holiday, Hinton invited her and her husband to his girlfriend’s family’s celebrations. He reported that this year, he is more excited than ever, because now Dench gets to meet HIS family.

See the most recent report of the pair’s annual tradition – and footage of this year’s holiday gathering – from KHON Channel 2 and take a moment to reflect on how even the most chance meetings can change lives!

For more heartwarming stories and funny, family-friendly videos, be sure to check out Richmond Mom’s entire Share Saturdays series!