Grandma, Young Man Continue Accidental Thanksgiving Tradition with a Special Twist
In 2016, a serendipitous text message to the wrong number sparked an unexpected Thanksgiving tradition. Jamal Hinton, then 16, received a message from Wanda Dench, who believed she was texting her grandson. The humorous mix-up led to an exchange of selfies, with Hinton jokingly asking, "Can I still get a plate tho?" Dench warmly replied, "That's what grandmas do … feed everyone".
This heartwarming encounter evolved into an annual celebration, bringing Hinton and Dench's families together for Thanksgiving feasts and various activities throughout the years. Their story, which is also being adapted into a Netflix film, has become a testament to the power of kindness and the broader definition of family.
In a touching development, after the passing of Dench's husband, Lonnie, from COVID-19 complications in 2020, their Thanksgiving gathering also served as a memorial for him. Dench expressed a profound sentiment, stating, "Family is more than blood. It’s the people you want to be with".
This year, Hinton and Dench are adding a twist to their tradition by partnering with Airbnb. They will welcome two guests to join their Thanksgiving celebration at Dench's home in Prescott, Arizona.
This unique experience, priced at $16 to commemorate the year they met, will include a seat at the Thanksgiving table, fun activities like board games, movie-watching, and cozying up by the fire with cider or hot cocoa.
The event also supports Feeding America, a major hunger relief organization in the United States.
Learn more about Jamal and Wanda's Thanksgiving experience and how you can join in here via People as we look forward to one of our favorite holiday traditions.
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Gallery Credit: Joni Sweet