Seven years later, Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton are still carrying on their unexpected Thanksgiving tradition.
Dench and her 24-year-old grandson first met in November 2016, when Dench texted him an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner.
But, unbeknownst to her, her grandson had changed his phone number, and Hinton, then 17, received her message instead…
Following some initial misunderstanding, the strangers exchanged selfies that proved the mix-up.
When Hinton inquired if Dench could still come over for dinner, the 65-year-old actress replied back, “You certainly can. That’s what grandmothers do: they feed everyone.”
The two ended up forging an odd relationship, and their story rapidly went viral once it was shared online.
Hinton, now 23, said last year that he and Dench were collaborating with Netflix on a film based on their joyful holiday narrative…
Most crucially, neither has missed a Thanksgiving without carrying on their annual custom, with Hinton documenting each holiday gathering at Dench’s Arizona home on social media.
Hinton posted a photo of himself and Dench outside a Cheesecake Factory restaurant on Instagram on Tuesday.
The two also participated in a pre-recorded segment on Wednesday’s Today show, where they highlighted the impact their friendship has had on their lives.
“He literally altered my life and my perspective on new generations about being open to friendships when you believe you have nothing in common,” Dench said. “But what about when you just sit and talk to them? Oh my goodness…”
“I honestly don’t know where I’d be at times,” Hinton admitted. “It’s incredible to have her as both a friend and a member of my family.
We always talk about it – I told her, ‘The cameras and the fame can go away tomorrow, but nothing will change between us.’”
“Certainly,” Dench added. “He’ll be with me for the rest of my life.”
They also don’t only converse on Thanksgiving. Throughout the year, they keep in touch by sharing dinners and talking on the phone.
Hinton took Dench to get her first tattoo and was with his girlfriend Mikaela when Dench’s husband Lonnie died in April 2020 of COVID-19.
“I heard some wrestling at my front door, and when I answered it, Jamal and Mikaela were dropping off a load of food and gifts and stuff,” Dench told Today.
“No matter what I’m doing, she’s a part of it,” Hinton explained.
Dench is retiring and plans to relocate a few hours away, so Thanksgiving will be a little different next year. Hinton, on the other hand, stated that he intends to make the trek to see her again.
They’ll keep texting till then, even though it’s not Dench’s strong suit. “He frequently texts me. ‘Just call me,’ I usually say “She laughed.
Hinton informed her, “We’re going to work on your texting.”