The End of an Era - Saying Goodbye to Harry

This week, the final movie in the Harry Potter series opens, culminating in the good versus evil showdown between Harry and Lord Voldemort and bringing to an end ten years of waiting with great anticipation for the next book to be made into a movie.

I purchased the Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone book in either late 1998 or early 1999 after reading reviews about this magical book that enraptured the imagination. After voraciously devouring every page myself, I actually held off sharing it with our two children, wondering if they were too young for it. After a few months, I decided to take a chance and see how they would like it. I started reading it to our seven year old son as a bedtime story and his older sister soon joined in. The magic of those wondrous words spilled off the pages and into their wonderful imaginations, conjuring visions of Harry, Hermione and Ron and making them an integral part of our lives. As the books are long, they took many an evening to read, discuss and enjoy. The Chamber of Secrets followed and by the time we got to the Prisoner of Azkaban, the kids were reading the books themselves, each with their own copies.  As each new book was published, our collection grew by two until the final book graced our shelves.

The movies, starting in 2000 became a family ritual. Each was anticipated longingly, tickets purchased for the first movie on opening day (even if it was school day!) and the movie dissected, compared to the book and a proclamation made of thumbs up or thumbs down.  When the movies came to DVD, they were watched repeatedly as a family and whenever any of us felt the need for a little Hogwarts magic in our lives.

Eleven years, later, the children are all grown up – both mine and those in the series. This weekend, my husband and I will attend The Deathly Hallows Part 2 together, sans children. We won’t go on opening day but on the closest day we can manage to that.

It is with mixed emotions that I will watch this final Harry Potter movie.  I am happy to see the resolution of the series and Harry’s triumph over Lord Voldemort but I am sad to mark the end of the era of shared family memories, words lovingly read and absorbed, the magic of good storytelling binding us together in a common vision.

Our daughter moved to Newfoundland a few weeks ago, leaving behind her set of Harry Potter books. I carefully gathered them, with fraying covers and well thumbed pages and placed them on the shelf in my home office. While she may be done with childhood things, I am not yet willing to part with these well-loved mementos of time well spent.

Thank you, Harry, for the magical memories you have given our family. The tears I shed this weekend are not only for your triumph but for the part of our life that will also be over when the movie’s credits roll.  Bittersweet memories, indeed.