Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Harry Potter Story

   My grandma died last night. So it might seem weird that I want to talk about Harry Potter. But a lot of people are talking about how this film marks the end of their childhood, so I think it's quite fitting. And my grandma passed on a love of stories to her children, who passed it on to me. And I think the way people are mourning the end of this series fits pretty well with the way I want to mourn my grandma. So hear me out.

First of all, there's this. 

I saw a video today that I think captures what the Harry Potter generation is. 

"There is a generation that lived through Harry Potter in a way that my generation can't and future generations certainly won't. Sure, from now on everybody will have the books...they'll have the movies...they will be there. but what's not there is their newness...
   I envy your generation for what you were able to experience with Harry Potter. Waiting for every book to come out, every movie, and seeing the entire story as a contemporary, through the eyes of someone the same age as the Boy Who Lived."

     Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone came out in Canada just before I turned 9. And that summer, in August (after I'd turned 9) I was in Alberta, camping with my family and my Aunt's family. My Aunt was very up to date on all the new books for kids, and she had the book for her two daughters. My mom, my aunt, my two cousins and I were in a van, going on a road trip somewhere (probably to the lake or to my uncle's farm) and she was reading it to her kids. She asked me to read a chapter, and after a quick synopsis of the backstory, I read "The Forbidden Forest" (The chapter where Voldemort drinks the unicorn blood) aloud to my cousin's. It was awesome.
  That Christmas, my aunt got me the book as a present and I don't know how many times I read it.
Chamber Of Secrets came out just before my birthday the next year, but my dad told me to wait to buy it until it was in paperback. I think I got it for Christmas that year or something.
After that, I didn't wait until the books were in paperback. I bought each one of them as soon as they came out.
     They always seemed to come out around my birthday, too. Except for the 3rd book, they all came out in June or July. It seemed special when I was young.
     Half Blood Prince came out 4 days before my birthday, and I had finished it before my birthday.

     Deathly Hallows came out the day after my 18th birthday, a month after I had graduated high school, and I was working in a bookstore at the time. That was the most special release for me because I got to experience it not only as a reader but as a retailer of the thing people were waiting for. I got to see the boxes of books arrive the night before (but we weren't allowed to put them out yet) and it was so sneaky and exciting. The store I worked in was too small to have a midnight release, but I got the book the next day (as a birthday present from my boyfriend's mom) and I read it on the bus to Calgary, where I was going to visit my sister. We spent our time in Calgary touring around, packing up her house (because she was moving soon) and just reading the book for hours at a time.

I truly grew up with these books.

a fan's sign at the premiere.

     When the books first started coming out, people always talked about how they were making kids read again. How their kids would never read anything until Harry Potter came out and then they read those books in a day. Even when I worked at Coles, people would come to me and say "Do you have anything like Harry Potter?" trying to find something else that would get their kids to read. But there is nothing else like it. 

     Harry Potter is a story about friendship, loyalty, courage, and love and how there are worse things than death and Love Conquers Death. And even though it is ending, the story and its message will live on forever in the hearts of the fans.

And that's how I want to remember my grandma. As a part of my childhood, a part of my life, who will live on forever in the lessons she taught me and the parts of herself I see in me.

"'You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?" - Albus Dumbledore

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