One grandmother who accidentally texted a dinner invitation to a stranger last Thanksgiving inadvertently started what would become a holiday tradition for the two new friends.
When Jamal Hinton received a Turkey Day invitation from an unknown contact calling themselves “grandma” last November, he asked the texter to send a selfie as proof—that’s when he discovered the mysterious person was actually Wanda Dench, someone he had never met and was mistakingly messaging him believing he was her grandson (who had recently changed his number).
Once they got to the bottom of the confusion, Hinton asked if he could still come over for dinner, and Dench quickly agreed, since grandma’s “feed everyone.” Thanks to a tweet showing the exchange between the two then-strangers, they quickly became a viral sensation.
“I just thought it would be fun to go, she seemed like a very nice lady,” Hinton, 18, of Tempe, Arizona, tells PEOPLE about attending Thanksgiving dinner with Dench and her family last year in Mesa, Arizona. “She seemed cool, and she is!”
This year, Hinton once again showed up to have Thanksgiving dinner with Dench, who he’s kept in touch with since they officially met after their hilarious texting mix-up.
“She sent me a couple gifts cards for Christmas,” he says. “She also talked to me around my high school graduation, and we’ve been keeping in touch here and there.”
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But Hinton didn’t come alone this year—this time he brought pumpkin pie (he forgot to pick one up last year), and he brought along his girlfriend.
“They actually liked each other!” Hinton says while laughing. “I think of Wanda as a friend and grandma, and we all had a good time and good food. “
Hinton says he appreciated being able to sit down with Dench this year and speak with her about life.
“We actually got to sit down and get to know each other, talk about our lives and what we’ve been going through,” he says, adding that Dench has become a great-grandmother since the last time he saw her.
A tweet posted by Hinton on Thanksgiving day compares two selfies he took with Dench in 2016 and 2017, and the post received more than 209,000 likes and 72,000 retweets.
Many on Twitter expressed their happiness after seeing the two continuing the holiday tradition:
Hinton hopes people who come across his and Dench’s story are inspired to be kind to one another, especially strangers.
“I hope people think about the ways they treat others,” he says, “and they start treating people the way they want to be treated.”