A grandmother who accidentally sent an invitation to dinner to a stranger on the last Thanksgiving inadvertently began what would become a Christmas tradition for the two new friends.
When Jamal Hinton received an invitation to Turkey Day from an unknown contact who called himself "grandmother" last November, he asked the sender to send a selfie as proof; it was then that he discovered that the mysterious person was actually Wanda Dench, someone he had never met and who sent him erroneous messages believing he was his grandson (who had recently changed his number).
Once they got to the bottom of the confusion, Hinton asked if he could still come for dinner, and Dench quickly agreed, since Grandma "feeds everyone." Thanks to a tweet that shows the exchange between the two then unknown, they quickly became a viral sensation.
"I just thought it would be fun to go, she seemed like a very nice woman," Hinton, 18, of Tempe, Arizona, tells PEOPLE about the Thanksgiving Dinner with Dench and her family last year at Mesa, Arizona. "It looked cool, and it is!"
This year, Hinton appeared once again for dinner at Thanksgiving with Dench, whom he kept in touch with since they met officially after their fun text message exchange.
She sent me a couple of gift cards for Christmas, "she says." She also told me about my high school graduation, and we've kept in touch here and there. "
But Hinton did not come alone This year, he brought pumpkin pie (he forgot to choose one until last year), and he brought his girlfriend.
"In fact, they liked each other!" says Hinton as he laughs. "I think of Wanda as Friend and grandma, and we all had a good time and good food. "
Hinton says she liked being able to sit with Dench this year and talk to her about life.
" In fact, we had to sit down and meet 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 published by Hinton on Thanksgiving compares two selfies he took with Dench in 2016 and 2017, and the publication received more than 209,000 likes and 72,000 retweets.
Many on Twitter expressed their happiness after seeing the two continuing the Christmas tradition:
Hinton hopes that people who come across Dench's story will be inspired to be kind to others, especially strangers.
"I hope people think about the ways they treat others," he says, "and start treating people the way they want to be treated."