Some people open their holiday meals to strangers, and one host even did so inadvertently. In 2016, Wanda Dench texted 17-year-old Jamal Hinton about Thanksgiving dinner, thinking she was contacting her grandson. When a skeptical Hinton requested a photo and received a selfie of someone with a different skin color, he chuckled — but then asked if he could still come eat! Thus began a new friendship and a new annual tradition, which Hinton documents online. “Family is more than blood,” says Dench. “It’s the people you want to be with.” This year’s meal will be bittersweet, with an empty chair for Dench’s husband, who died of Covid-19 in April. To show support after that loss, Hinton sent his “grandma” a collection of loving video messages. Strangers worldwide expressed condolences to a woman who’d fully embraced a stranger.
Published in Newsletter Newsletter November 2020