Traditionally, Thanksgiving involves a large meal featuring turkey with extended family seated around the table, but sometimes friends who are like family join the celebration. Other times, complete strangers become like family for very unusual reasons.

Every once in awhile, when you send a text, you might accidentally send it to the wrong number. We’ve done this more than once. Oops. Usually we realize our mistake and send a quick text to the wrong number letting them know it was a mistake. Usually we don’t even hear back. Once in awhile we realize our mistake because the person on the other end sends us a text letting us know this text was not intended for them.

Sometimes texts sent to the wrong number can get a more interesting response. Our favorite example is when a grandmother named Wanda Dench thought she was texting her grandson about Thanksgiving dinner but accidentally texted a complete stranger named Jamal Hinton. What makes their story unique is that after realizing the mistake, Dench invited Hinton to join her family for Thanksgiving dinner, and he took her up on the offer.

Five years later, Hinton is still visiting Dench for Thanksgiving. It has become a tradition every year, but this year’s celebration was not like the others.

Obviously, there is a pandemic this year, so Dench kept the celebration small. She couldn’t imagine having Thanksgiving dinner without Hinton, so he was one of the guests. Dench told CNN, “It all has to do with this feeling. There’s just this connection. It feels like we’ve known each other in past lives. There’s absolutely no generational gap between us. The conversation just flows, we never run out of things to talk about.”

Hinton agrees. He explained, “Whenever we met, we would spend four or five hours, just talking and talking. It was never awkward, Wanda and Lonnie became two close best friends to me.”

Who is Lonnie? Lonnie Dench was Wanda Dench’s husband, but he died of COVID-19 in March. Hinton told CNN, “At first it was sad. We had a photo of Lonnie at the table with a candle lit, and we were all shaky in the beginning but it lasted five minutes before we were back to ourselves.”

Watch the video below to hear more about Dench and Hinton’s 5th Thanksgiving dinner together and their first one without Lonnie.

Have you ever become friends with someone under unusual circumstances? Have you lost any loved ones due to COVID-19?