Last night, six of us, ages 17 to 56, went to see the last Harry Potter movie. My husband and I, in our 50s, were nearly as excited as our kids and their friends, who range from 16 to 20. That a movie appeals to such as broad age range is in itself is a small miracle.
Our daughter and her friend, sporting round glasses, Hogwart’s badges, sparkling gold-striped ties, and lightning bolt scars on their foreheads, parked in line with blankets and frappacinos for 3 hours to secure good seats for all.
The movie did not disappoint. It captured all of our favorite scenes; the matronly Mrs. Weasley defeating Bellatrix, in a duel; the formerly bullied and stuttering Neville Longbottom destroying the last horcrux; and Harry, of course, defeating both, the seemingly all powerful, Voldemort, and his fear of death.
The movie, like the book, conveyed the terrible cost of war with the deaths of well-loved characters such as Remus, Fred Weasley and Tonks, and the destruction of Hogwart’s castle. And it reminded all of us who did not live through World War II, that there are times when the sacrifice is needed.
When we came home last night, we all congregated in the family room, talking about the movie, our favorite characters, and the grief we felt about the series being over. We have watched these characters grow up on the page and on the screen over the last 12 years. But more importantly, for many of us, we have watched our children grow up along with those characters, while we have shared these books with them.
Late to the show, we began reading Harry Potter to our children in 1999, when our children were 5 and 8 years old. We all got hooked on these stories that were centered on unlikely heroes (including the socially awkward but brilliant heroine, Hermione) who battle evil in a magical world full of eccentric personalities and hilarious situations. The four of us continued to read the books out loud and together as the books got bigger and the themes got darker; The Order of the Phenix on Vancouver Island; the Half-Blood Prince in our family room; and the Deathly Hallows on a weekend to Point Pelee. These seven books have been woven into our family history.
The books have also been a source of on-going debate, speculation and laughter in our household for 12 years. We have talked about the many ways in which the books evoke the history of World War II; how the Death Eaters are similar to the Nazis; how evil grows in an atmosphere of a denial. We spent a good year debating whether Snape was the ultimate betrayer or a Saint acting upon Dumbledore’s orders. The discussions, like the books, have probed deeper issues and broader themes as our children have grown older.
We are all sad that we have finished the last book; watched the last movie; that Harry, Ron and Hermione have grown up and moved out of our lives. While we are satisfied that they have conquered evil and grown up to have happy lives of their own, we miss being part of their lives. And that mirrors exactly how we feel about our children!