Twelve years ago I was in the bedroom of our little seminary apartment, folding diapers and listening to NPR, when a story came on featuring the Harry Potter books. My response was lukewarm, to say the least. To be more precise, I remember thinking anything the populus liked so much had to be crap. What can I say? I’m a notorious book snob.
It was 1999, back when the internet was brand new and all, and it was the first year that online shopping really took off. Ever the bargain shopper, I can still remember the great deals that Christmas season, including free shipping and several bonus gifts. Somehow, when the wrapping paper was all cleaned up, I found myself in possession of not one, but two copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Michael was 9 months old and an avid nurser. Since he was my first and I didn’t have other little ones to chase after, I did a lot of reading while breastfeeding him. One day, out of sheer boredom, I picked up my copy of Sorcerer’s Stone and read the first chapter. When I got to the end, I called over to my husband who was washing dishes. “You have to listen to this!” I began reading the first chapter over again, this time out loud. We were both hooked.
I gave my second copy to my BFF from high school and told her she HAD to read it. She was skeptical at first, but in the end J K Rowling hooked her and her family as well. I’m not sure if they’re as crazy as we are, but I know for a fact she painted a little lightening bolt on one of her babies’ heads and took him to the midnight show.
Time went on and I had more children, more nursing sessions, more time for reading. I remember sitting in a rainy camp cabin, listening to Jim Dale read the books. I remember the first time I heard Harry and the Potters. I have read the first three books out loud more times than I can count. I have laughed, cried, cursed, and stayed up all night reading these books.
When my first child learned to read, it was Sorcerer’s Stone that he picked up first. He has since literally read the covers off all seven books. We’ve gone to release parties, midnight shows, and concerts. I’ve dabbled in fan fiction, both as an author and as a beta reader (editor) and have met some of the nicest people in the world both online and in real life. We’ve had Hogwarts Summer School and trips on The Night Bus. We planned a vacation around the Harry Potter exhibition. My children have paid tribute to J K Rowling in art, song, writing, dress up, cooking, and more. These books have been a huge part of our life.
When Katie Grace was 6 months old, we took her with us to see Sorcerer’s Stone. She laughed with delight as the letters flew out of the fireplace, trying to catch them. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I took two 8-month-olds with us. One slept, and the other shook with excitement as he tried to catch little pieces of Voldemort,
It’s been epic.
Tonight, that same little baby I nursed through my first reading of the book sat by my side as we watched the last movie in 3D. This was his second viewing, my fifth. The oldest two, the babies, and I all went together to the midnight show at the drive in, sitting in the back of our van which we had decorated to look like the Gryffindor common room. It wasn’t worth the extra eleventybillion dollars to see it in 3D, it has absolutely been worth every copy of the books I have bought, every replacement when those fell apart, every tape and then CD, every movie ticket, every soundtrack, every costume.
And so, I raise a glass of butterbeer to Joanne Rowling. Thank you for using your God-given gifts of creativity to write these books. Thank you for creating characters that inspire and uplift. Thank you for writing a series that captures our imaginations. Above all, I thank you for a story that points us to the Truth of love, a love that is kind and selfless and does not seek its own, a love that transcends death, a love that shows itself by laying one’s life down for one’s friends. Thank you for using your gifts to speak to our hearts, our imaginations, and our better nature. I can’t think of anything more magical than that.