This week marks the end of something very special to me and my family, something that has formed a big part of my children’s lives. It’s hard to see something this important come to a conclusion, but we are all infinitely richer for having shared the experience.I’m talking, of course, about the Harry Potter Phenomenon.
Although it is hard to remember a world without Potter, without muggles and squibs and Dementors and Diagon Alley, it existed. My oldest daughter was just 6 years old and starting to enjoy reading on her own when Harry made his American publishing debut in 1998. So she was the target audience at the beginning, and she has grown up alongside the characters, taking her little sister and the rest of the family along for the ride.
I wish I remembered the first time I heard about Harry. But it didn’t seem that important at the time. The first time he really entered my consciousness was when DD1 brought home one of those Scholastic Books order forms and wanted me to let her get something called “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Um, ok. I trusted Scholastic — God knows, I bought books from them when I was in first grade, before the earth’s crust cooled, and they wouldn’t steer my kid wrong.
And they didn’t, though I doubt that anyone as Scholastic knew exactly what they were starting with that first children’s book.
Because it didn’t stay a kid’s book. As my little darling moved through childhood and adolescence, the Hogwarts kids were right there with her, experiencing all the trauma and joy of growing up, but in a fantasy world that made learning from them enjoyable.
From Harry’s first kiss with Cho Chang to the shock of Sirius Black’s death, my daughter learned a lot about relationships from Ms. Rowling’s characters, and the lessons were always good ones — acceptance, honesty and love.
So this Thursday night I will be wearing my pink dress, cardigan, hair bow and smarmy kitten brooch to the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows Part II. My Dolores Umbridge persona will be accompanied by the DDs as Bellatrix LeStrange and a Ravenclaw student and one boyfriend as a Quidditch player. We will, along with several hundred people who share our love for all things Potter, enjoy the last premiere.
So let’s lift a butterbeer (or firewhiskey, if that’s your preference) to the boy who lived and the author who told us about him!