Do you remember the Arizona grandma who by accident invited a stranger for Thanksgiving, resulting in an enduring friendship that went viral?
To recap, Wanda Dench was trying to contact her grandson to invite him to the Thanksgiving meal. What she didn't realize was that her grandson had an entirely new number, and his old one had been given to someone else. 17-year old Jamal Hinton received the message, and instead of simply deleting it, he replied. Dench had planned to text the plans for Thanksgiving to her 24-year-old grandson, Brandon Burgoyne, who had, unbeknownst to her, changed his phone number, with Hinton being assigned his old number.
The mistake was discovered when they exchanged selfies. After Hinton asked, “Can I still get a plate, though?” Her reaction was swift. “Of course you can,” Dench stated in a text message. “That's what grandmas do—feed everyone.”
Hinton did come over to celebrate Thanksgiving, and the two immediately formed a friendship. Seven years later, they carry on this tradition.
The story has captured the attention of Americans all over the country. Dench and Hinton are questioned by the media every year to determine if they attended their annual reunion, and they claim they're true friends who stay connected all year round. In fact, Netflix has approached the pair about turning their touching story into a television show.
Hinton, who is now in his 20s, believes as Dench does that regardless of the outcome of their ongoing viral story, they will share an unbreakable bond and will be best friends for the rest of their lives.
“He’s literally changed my life and my point of view on young generations about being open to friendships when you think you have nothing in common with somebody,” Dench has noted. “But when you just sit and talk to them? Oh my gosh.”
“I honestly don’t know where I would be sometimes,” Hinton said. “It’s amazing to have her as a friend and as my family. We always talk about [it]—I told her, ‘The cameras and the fame can stop tomorrow and nothing is changing between us’.”
“Absolutely,” Dench added. “He’s in my heart for life.”
The two don’t just talk at Thanksgiving, either. They’re in constant contact throughout the year, having dinners and catching up on the phone.
The Today Show caught up with the dynamic duo earlier in the year: “It's time for one of our favorite holiday traditions. The heartwarming tale of a grandmother mistakenly texting a teenage boy bringing the strangers together for Thanksgiving, has continued for a 7th year—and @kristendahlgren got a chance to catch up with them!”
It’s fun to update this story each year. When first published, America was in the turmoil of the Trump Derangement syndrome. There were those who saw this as a surprising tale of two people who were “very different” coming together despite their differences. However, it is a case proving how we're much more similar than we believe (and more than what the old media would like us to believe). Hinton and Dench are living evidence that America is full of nice, compassionate people who will take a chance on their fellow Americans to show generosity. Two amazing Americans have created a wonderful American friendship.
This truly is the American spirit, and it should make us all thankful.