Thanksgiving really is about bringing people together.
The heartwarming tale of a grandmother mistakenly texting a teenage boy, bringing the two strangers together for the food-filled holiday, has continued for a seventh year.
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, Jamal Hinton shared a photo standing beside Wanda Dench outside The Cheesecake Factory restaurant, revealing the two are carrying on their viral tradition.
“To answer all your questions, yes Thanksgiving year 7 is planned out! See you guys Thursday!” he captioned the photo with turkey and black heart emojis.
The comment section was filled with joy and excitement, with one user calling the reunion “the Thanksgiving tradition I never knew I needed.”
Several users said they wait each year for an update on the comforting story, and another suggested that Hallmark should film a movie inspired by Hinton and Dench.
In 2016, Dench accidentally sent a text to Hinton, telling the then 17-year-old that Thanksgiving dinner was at her house on Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. When the teen asked who sent him the message, Dench replied, “Your grandma,” with an elderly woman emoji.
Hinton wrote back, asking for a photo to prove that the number really belonged to his grandmother. After she sends a selfie image of herself at work, he replies with a photo of his face and a text saying she’s not his grandma.
“Can I still get a plate tho?” Hinton asked.
“Of course you can. That’s what grandma’s do…feed everyone,” she replied with a piece of cake emoji.
After Hinton shared the interaction to social media, his post went viral and hundreds of thousands of people have followed the pair’s story since their first Thanksgiving meal together in Mesa, Arizona six years ago.
Even amid the pandemic in 2020, the two figured out a scaled-down way to gather. 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 garner awareness and support. After Lonnie’s passing, Hinton updated his following, adding that “Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys 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 that she feels “fate stepped in” when she sent that accidental text message years ago.
“Jamal taught me that age made absolutely no difference. I love all of my grandkids and kids, but we all are different generations and we all reminiscence about different things,” she said. “But when Jamal came along, my husband and I and him and his girlfriend, we would go out to dinner throughout the year together and we would just lose all track of time. One time, we were at a restaurant for three or four hours and I couldn’t believe we were there that long. We kept talking! It was just such a wonderful conversation.”
“That’s when it dawned on me 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 I make it a point to talk and get to know them,” she continued.
“He’s changed my life a lot, I know that.”