The viral “Thanksgiving Grandma” tradition continues this holiday season, but this time, more guests are invited to join in on the festivities.
This viral tradition began in 2016 with the very common mistake of texting the wrong number, except this text chain didn’t end with a quick apology.
It turned into a years-long friendship between two strangers.
In 2016, Wanda Dench of Arizona sent a message to who she thought was her grandson about Thanksgiving dinner. Dench was unaware her grandson had changed his phone number, so the text went to teenager Jamal Hinton instead.
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After establishing that the text didn’t go to its intended recipient, Hinton jokingly said that he would go to dinner. Dench replied that he was welcome to join, and “Thanksgiving Grandma” was born.
Hinton had Thanksgiving dinner with Dench and her family in 2016 and has continued to do so in the years that followed.
Now, Hinton and Dench are welcoming more people to join them for a holiday meal, and they have partnered with Airbnb to make it happen.
“Some may recognize us from our viral text mishap that led to our first Thanksgiving together back in 2016. And eight years later, we’re practically family,” the Airbnb listing says. “To commemorate our lasting friendship, we’re excited to become Airbnb Hosts and welcome new guests into our holiday tradition, creating meaningful connections in the process.”
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For just $16 dollars, representative of the year the two met, individuals can attend an early Thanksgiving dinner with Hinton and Dench and stay overnight in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Guests must pay for their own travel expenses.
“I said from the jump of our first Thanksgiving that I always wanted to have more people join our Thanksgiving and be able to celebrate with us and have the amount of fun that we have together,” Hinton told USA Today.
The menu for dinner Nov. 20 will include the usual fixings, like turkey and mashed potatoes and Dench’s favorite, Costco pumpkin pie.
There will also be plenty of time for board games, movies, photo opportunities and cozying up by the warm fire.
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This Thanksgiving dinner could be the start of new friendships, like the one Hinton and Dench have developed.
“That would be pretty cool to see people wanting to share a good experience and then open it up to other strangers as well,” she told the outlet.
The pair have spent Thanksgiving together since their first meeting in 2016 and have shared photos and videos on social media each year. They even spent the holiday together in 2020 after Dench lost her husband Lonnie in April of that year. She thanked the public for its support during the difficult time.
“I want to say thank you to all of the people that sent their blessings and their condolences and their well wishes for me,” Dench said in a YouTube video posted by Hinton in 2020. “It’s still going to take a lot of time … but when I get visits from these guys, it really perks me up.”
Shortly after their Thanksgiving dinner in 2022, Hinton made an announcement on Twitter sharing that he and Dench were partnering with Netflix to tell their story.
“We thank every single one of you for your love and support in our journey the last 6 years,” Hinton wrote. “We can’t wait to tell our story on the big screen!” There hasn’t been any recent news on the project.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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