Saturday, July 30, 2011

Harry Potter...and the end of an era

Yes, sometimes we sound a tad dramatic. The end of an era? Really? But as I sat in that theater with my 22 year old son, I couldn't help but reminisce.  This wasn't just a book series. It was ingrained in our lives.
The Harry Potter series captured our imagination. For years!

Harry was the same age as Michael. Both adventure seekers. And now, both about to embark on new journeys without Hogwarts, or Home, or me. A "coming of age" movie indeed.

We first started reading Harry Potter when Michael was only 12. I read to the kids while they sprawled out over the living room. I would only read a couple of chapters, and we'd mull it over for a while. We made a pact that we'd not read ahead so we'd be able to react all together. This pact worked for a couple of books. But after about the third or fourth, Michael and Katie both were taking the books off to their rooms and devouring them. They'd still come back to the rest of us, saying things like, "You're going to LOVE this next part!" or "OMG, I hate Snape!"

Stepping back in time, I remember the concern that lots of people had initially. Churches thought it was glorifying black magic or worse. The kids would run into friends that weren't allowed to read the series.  My kids had nothing but pity for these people. It never led them to making deals with the devil or worshipping the occult.

But true to Patterson form, when we "get into" something, we don't hold anything back. We'd go to the Midnight book releases. Exhausted, we'd wait in lines in the middle of the night to be the first ones to have our hands on the newly released book. Later, book stores got the idea and set up parties that my kids enjoyed with various Hogwart-esque activities around the room. Something had to occupy all these people that showed up hours before they were handing out the books.

We spent years quoting Dumbledore and pondering what we would do when faced with the kinds obstacles Harry faced. 2001 seemed to be our big year for focusing on Harry Potter.  When we were in California, Michael dressed up as Harry Potter

Invitations via Owls
 When Katie and Michael turned 10 and 12,  they decided they wanted to have a Harry Potter birthday party together. Their birthdays are a month apart, and they had the same set of friends. So that's what we did. We sent invitations by way of Owl Couriers.  We played Muggle games, made Hogwarts potions, and held a Divination class. We had flying bats and brooms and a golden snitch. We sorted kids with the sorting hat, ate food that would have been on the tables at Hogwarts, and guessed flavors of Bertie Bott Beans. 
(We lived VERY near the Jelly Belly Factory, so we had quite a gross variety!) 

 Coming full circle, Katie worked at Barnes and Noble and actually took part in the final midnight distribution to young and old alike. She still read the series, but wasn't quite as engrossed as she had been earlier in her life. She worked at the movie theater when the last Harry Potter movie was released. She sat with her friend and watched pieces of it over the course of a week. Not the same experience at all.

Michael and I, on the other hand, saw the series through. Michael had finished all of the books and then we went together to the local movie theater. We watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (Part 2) in 3D. I got teary as I watched the scenes where Harry was younger. I couldn't help but relate it to Michael. Time had marched on. For Harry and for us.

That was last summer. We were awaiting Michael's Peace Corps assignment. It's interesting to me that Harry's series wrapped up at the same time as what I consider Michael's childhood. Yes, he went to college, but it's not the same as leaving the country to start out on adventures of your own. Michael landed an assignment in Nicaragua, one of the poorer countries in the Americas. Volcanos, revolutions, hurricanes and mudslides have really made it difficult for the people there. So, of course, after years of watching Harry in his adventures, it's time for Michael to embark on a few of his own.

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