Arizona Grandma Wanda Dench spends sixth Thanksgiving with the man she texted by mistake.
For the sixth consecutive year, Arizona grandmother Wanda Dench spends Thanksgiving with Jamil Hilton, a young man she initially invited by text, mistakenly thinking she was talking to her grandson. At the time, Hilton was a total stranger.
Six years running, the Dench family of Mesa, Arizona, has had a very special guest on Thanksgiving. Jamil Hinton is not related by blood. In fact, you could call him the accidental Thanksgiving guest who became family.
It all started in 2016 when Dench wanted to send her grandson a reminder text for Thanksgiving dinner. “Thanksgiving dinner is at my house on November 4th at 3 p.m,” Dench wrote. However, she mistakenly sent the text to Hilton, a 17-year-old.They quickly realize the mix-up.
“Can I still get a plate, though?” Hilton wrote jokingly. “Of course you can,” Dench replied. “That’s what Grandma’s do, feed everyone,” she added.
So Hilton came over for Thanksgiving and it went so well. So well, that she invited him the following year and the next year. And the next year, before they knew it, a tradition was born.
Sadly, last year’s Thanksgiving was bittersweet. Dench lost her husband, Lonnie, to covid and for the second year in a row, she will sit down to a holiday dinner at a table with an empty chair, signifying the seat occupied by her beloved husband who succumbed to COVID in April 2020. “I miss him, but I know he’s in a good place,” she said.
Hilton is by her side now and six thanksgivings later, the tradition continues. Dench now has the nickname “Thanksgiving Grandma” from everyone. The true spirit of the holidays comes from opening her door to a total stranger.
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