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Grandma and man she mistakenly texted to spend sixth Thanksgiving together

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Posted at 12:39 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 09:01:48-05

One of the internet's favorite traditions will continue for a sixth year in 2021 when Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench get together for Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, Hinton tweeted that he and "Grandma Wanda" had made plans to get together on Thanksgiving Day, six years after a mistaken text message brought them together.

Hinton and Dench first met in 2016, when Dench mistakenly texted Hinton while trying to reach her grandson about plans for Thanksgiving. Despite the mistake, Hinton jokingly invited himself over.

"Of course you can," Dench replied. "That's what grandmas do ... feed everyone!"

Hinton stayed true to his promise and showed up with his girlfriend, and Dench welcomed the two with open arms. Screenshots of their text interactions and photos from the meal were shared thousands of times, making Hinton and Dench social media icons.

There have been plenty of ups and downs for the group since that first Thanksgiving dinner in 2016.

Last year was the first year the pair celebrated Thanksgiving without Dench's husband, Lonnie, who died of complications from COVID-19.

"As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it," Hinton tweeted in April of 2020. "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!"

Despite the loss, Hinton and Dench continued their tradition last year with a small, socially-distanced get-together outside Dench's home.

"I can't even explain how much joy I had, having good food with my favorite company," she told CNN. "We laughed, we had a great time, we reminisced about the past. It was so good for all of us."

"At first, it was sad. We had a photo of Lonnie at the table with a candle lit, and we were all shaky in the beginning, but it lasted five minutes before we were back to ourselves," Hinton told CNN last year. "We just told jokes and stories and shared our memories of Lonnie, so it was amazing."

This story was originally published by Crystal Bedoya on Scripps station KNXV in Phoenix.