Of Turkeys, Technology and Accidental Texts


Many of us likely spent our Thanksgivings with family and friends, passing the mashed potatoes and side-stepping politics as much as humanly possible.

But Thanksgiving at Wanda Dench’s house looks a little different.

In 2016, 59-year-old Wanda invited her teen grandson and his girlfriend over for Thanksgiving dinner via text. Or, at least, that’s who she thought she was inviting. Turns out, she was mistakenly inviting another teen, 17-year-old Jamal Hinton, over for Turkey Day.

Jamal asked Wanda to send a photo. You know, just to confirm they knew each other. They didn’t. “You not my grandma,” he texted back. “Can I still get a plate tho?”

“Of course you can,” Wanda said. “That’s what grandmas do … feed everyone.” And sure enough, Jamal showed up, and a lovely time was had by all.

Funny, sweet story, right? A couple of folks who might’ve had nothing in common with each other, sharing the holiday together? Great, but that was 2016, and we’ve got more important things to ponder. Like Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson.

But here’s the thing: It’s 2018 now, and Jamal and Wanda are still getting together for Thanksgiving. In fact, they have dinner every few months now.

“Gaining a new grandma, I thought maybe I’d gain one getting married, but as a friend, it’s great,” Jamal told CBS 5 in Mesa, Ariz.

We often talk in this space how technology sometimes creates barriers to honest-to-goodness connection. We text instead of talk, “like” instead of live with one another. Carefully crafted letters are almost extinct now, giving way to status updates and 280-character tweets. Social media can be anything but, and texts sometimes do nothing to augment togetherness.

All that’s true … unless we get intentional.

If Wanda and Jamal relegated their interactions to a series of funny texts, their relationship would’ve gone no farther, surely. But it went beyond that. The texts were about Thanksgiving, one of America’s most traditional holidays, when we gather together in one room—differences and all—and share a meal with one another. We’re face to face.. We hear each other laugh. And we move beyond status updates or possibly incendiary tweets and actually see each other a little more like God sees us: As people. It helps us get to know one another—even folks who we think we know quite well enough already.

Amazing what sharing dinner can do, isn’t it? Even if we don’t serve turkey.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

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Miss Priss More than 1 year ago
That's too bad. I didn't vote for Trump, but if we could talk and try to understand where the other person was coming from instead of arguing, the world would be a better place. I have a lot of friends who did vote for Trump, and we've been able to have some great discussions about Trump, his policies, and how they've affected our country.
Lyn Chartowich More than 1 year ago
Hey I heard about that on the news last year (I think)!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny thing, my cousins and I did nothing but talk politics this Thanksgiving. And considering that we all agree on pretty much everything, it was quite enjoyable.
-Davidiswise The Clown
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the best conversations I have had have involved people I disagree with. I honestly enjoy debate. But when you are used to disagreeing with the majority of people you encounter, it is refreshing to get together with people who you share common ground with. Especially if they are family.
Now I am very big into politics myself, especially the economical side, but I can understand those who really don't like talking about it.
-Davidiswise The Clown

Natalie L More than 1 year ago
Agreement doesn't imply boredom. There's nearly nothing so exhilarating to meet someone and realize that they think the same way as you do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The real disagreement came when my brother announced that he liked Johnny Cash better then Bob Dylan. That's when things got heated lol
-Davidiswise The Clown