Skip to Content

Grandmother Who Went Viral After Inviting The Wrong Teenager To Thanksgiving Celebrates Fifth Holiday With Him

Maybe you remember a Thanksgiving story from 2016 that quickly went viral after a young man posted a couple of screenshots on his Twitter feed. The teen in question, Jamal Hinton, was a student at Desert Vista High School, Arizona. One day in class, his phone went off with a message from a woman claiming to be his grandma.  Jamal tried to tell her she had the wrong teen, but she wouldn’t listen. Eventually, he asked for a selfie, sending one back to prove they weren’t related. “Can I still get a plate though?” he asked. 

“Of course you can,” she said. “That’s what grandmas do…feed everyone!”

And everyone tried to be fed. Jamal forgot to take her number off the screenshots when he posted them, leading to the woman getting 600 texts asking for an invite. She had to change her number. But Jamal still came. (1)

The ‘Wrong’ Grandson, Five Thanksgivings Later

The grandmother from that story, Wanda Dench, has continued to celebrate Thanksgiving with Hinton every year, despite him not being her teenage grandson. 

And it’s not just Jamal. Hinton’s family comes together with the Denches for a large, blended Thanksgiving. Of course, Covid has made everything different this year. The changes, for Wanda Dench, started in April 2020. (2)

The Hospital 

Jamal Hinton made a tweet April 1st, but it wasn’t an April Fool’s prank–and it certainly wasn’t making anyone laugh. “I am so sad to announce that Wanda and Lonnie both have COVID-19,” he tweeted. “Lonnie is currently in the hospital fighting both COVID and Pneumonia please send words of love and encouragement their way.”

A week later, April 8th, Hinton retweeted his earlier tweet–with a grim addition.” As some of you may have already found out tonight,” he said. “Lonnie did not make it… he passed away Sunday morning but 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!” (3)

The ‘Wrong’ Family Turns Right

“It’s going to be different, my first Thanksgiving without him [her husband],” Dench tells the New York Times. “My husband was always right behind me, telling me how proud he was of Jamal and me for what we’ve done.”

The Denches, Hinton, and Hinton’s girlfriend, Mikaela Grubbs would go on double dates with each other. It doesn’t matter [someone’s age],” says Hinton. “You can be friends with anybody, you can be family with anybody.”

And they have kept Thanksgiving a tradition. In fact, last year they had dinner with Grubb’s family too. “Gosh it was just a whirlwind of fun,” says Dench. (2)

Keeping Tradition Alive

Thanksgiving looked a lot different this year. Dench and Hinton celebrated Friday instead, with Grubbs, and Dench’s daughter and grandson. That allowed them to get tested for COVID-19 before celebrating with their families. But they wanted to see each other.

“The past seven months have been so difficult, but this was really important to me,” Dench says. “I can’t even explain how much joy I had, having good food with my favorite company.” (4)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.