The midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II is only 24 hours away and I can’t help but feel very sad that this series has come to a close. I know that the books ended years ago, but I’ve always enjoyed the movies as well and it feels strange to think that there probably won’t be a continuation of this story. I’ve been reading the last book again, in celebration of the movie, and I’m reminded of how “magical” Harry Potter has made my life.
When I was in 5th grade, my teacher gave $15 to each student in the gifted reading program. We were to spend it at the school book fair, which was one of my favorite parts of the school year. I loved to read; so many books in one place was heavenly, and I loved being able to purchase a book of my own choice for the first time. I was interested in public opinion, even at such a young age, and the newspapers had told me that Harry Potter was receiving rave reviews from people of all ages. It was also receiving a fair bit of criticism from religious groups, so I knew that I had little chance of my mom buying the book for me. I was intrigued, so I bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that day; it’s the first book that I remember buying for myself.
My parents used to buy, fix, and rent/sale houses when I was younger. I had to go with them to a house that afternoon, which was always quite boring for me. It wasn’t a very warm day, so I decided to stay in the car and read. My mom wasn’t thrilled with my book choice, having heard that the books were too “dark,” especially for children. She told me to wait until she had read it first. I didn’t, though. I remember thinking that I would just read one page and then start on my homework. By the time my parents finished working, I had read the entire 300 page book. It had taken me 2-3 hours; I could read incredibly fast as a child, but I believe that I finished the book so quickly because I simply couldn’t put it down. I now tease my mom that I would still be waiting to read Harry Potter, had I followed her orders (she still hasn’t read them).
The books quickly became a huge part of my life. I was obsessed to the point that my parents made me wait until vacation to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so that I could focus on other things. I started reading as soon as we packed everything in the car, and finished the book by the time we arrived at our destination. Hermione was always my favorite character. I connected deeply with her, especially in the earlier years. You know, middle school is an awkward time for a kid, and I didn’t quite know who I was meant to be yet. What I did know was that Hermione was me. I felt so connected to her because we were very much alike. I even had the “bushy” hair. I was also incredibly bright when I was younger; teachers were forever trying to promote me because I was ahead in my classes (not anymore! lol). I felt a strong desire to always be right, as did Hermione. I was very competitive. But at the same time, I was far weaker than Hermione. I didn’t have her courage or confidence. I became less sure of my intelligence with age, and started to become quieter, hoping to blend in with the other students. Hermione was a strong role model for me during this part of my life, as I struggled to be sure of myself. I wanted to be seen as she was seen, though hopefully a bit less annoying. ;)
Though I’ve promoted the “this story will never end” claim and do hope that my kids will one day also appreciate Harry Potter, the reality is that this is it. This is the last time that I’ll ever sit anxiously in a movie theater at midnight, waiting to be sent to Hogwarts with people as dorky as I am. I’ll never have the same first-time movie jitters, or the thrill of seeing some of my favorite actors work magic on-screen. Sure, I can watch the movies at home, but nothing compares to opening night. Nothing.
Harry Potter has taught me so much about myself and the person I aspire to be. These books have helped me to learn important life lessons and how to be a genuinely good person: to value friendships, help those in need, fight the good fight, and – most importantly – that love is always the answer.
So, thank you Harry, for showing me that sacrifice is worth it and that family and friends are everything.
Thank you Hermione, for being a role model for me as a young girl and for being a strong female – one that no one could ever do without.
Thank you Ron, for showing me that loyalty is so important in relationships.
Thank you Malfoy, for showing that people aren’t always as they seem.
Thank you Neville, for showing that courage should always be valued.
Thank you, Sirius. Your character affects me in a way that I can’t even describe.
Thank you Albus Dumbledore, for your wisdom, memorable quotes, and especially for your belief that love conquers all.
Thank you to the brilliant actors for bringing my favorite characters to life.
Above all, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOUUU, J.K. Rowling, for EVERYTHING. You will never know how you’ve impacted my life. Harry’s world has been a part of mine since I was eleven. Though the books and movies may be complete, these worlds will always be connected. You’ve changed me, helped me to make some amazing friends, and inspired me to become an author. I know that my children and grandchildren will ask me about Harry Potter one day, wondering what it was like to be a fan of such a masterpiece. I’ll be able to proudly tell them, perhaps with a tear in my eye as I reflect on a distant memory, that Harry Potter changed everything.