“Happee Birthdae Harry”

The Magic Begins

 

Hedwig’s Theme, Opening Notes

Happee Birthdae, Harry Potter

On July 31st, 1991, Harry Potter turned 11. It was on that day, 27 years ago today, when Hagrid presented Harry with his Hogwarts’ letter. The same day Harry received his letter, his life – and the lives of nearly an entire generation of children – was forever changed.

I was introduced to the Harry Potter franchise when my daughter was in first grade. It was Halloween, and there was a parade at her elementary school. Children and teachers alike wore costumes – pirates, Power Puff Girls, Ninja Turtles, and more. Most memorable, however, was the school principal’s costume, which was a long black hooded robe, round glasses, a wand and a hand-drawn lightning-bolt scar on her forehead. I confess, I had to ask her who she was supposed to be. She looked at me, dumbfounded, and said, “Well…Harry Potter, of course!”

But of course.

 

Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived…and Learned

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Albus Dumbledore

Immediately after that, I introduced my daughter to the books, and then to the movies. And that was when we became a Harry Potter family. We watched in awe and wonder as Harry, Ron, Hermione – and all the rest – grew from wide-eyed wizards studying potions and wand-work, to young adults bravely fighting demons so fierce, so cruel, even the elders among them doubted their chance for success.

“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.” ―Sirius Black

As adults, we often teach our children that the world is not black and white, that our foes are sketched in as many shades of gray as our friends. Yet, I wonder whether we teach that lesson in word only, rather than by example. And I wonder, too, whether our children are wiser than we might expect and see those shades of gray all on their own.

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” ―Sirius Black

As we read the books and watched the movies, Harry, his friends, and even Draco, grew into young adults with a healthy skepticism of those around them. They had a keen awareness of a complacent media unwilling to address the first hints of danger. They also harbored a healthy rebelliousness against language and ideas that were divisive, bitter, and cruel, even when that language and those ideas came from authority figures.

We watched young Harry become a man as he learned that while those who chose to be Death Eaters were one form of evil, so too were those who willingly ignored the slow and steady rise of evil in favor of personal gain. We even watched as Draco came into his own as he learned, too late, that ‘otherness’, which was so passionately loathed by the elders he idolized, was not, in fact a “crime” at all, nor was it an offense worthy of death.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Albus Dumbledore

I wish our kids the same fortitude displayed by Harry and the gang as they face the challenges this world presents. I wish them stamina, foresight, and trust in themselves – no matter what others say – to know they have the ability to change the world. To turn on the lights when times are dark. To see the value in friends, family, and strangers – both familiar and unique. And I wish them the wisdom to know that, while they each have those abilities within themselves, we are all so much stronger together.

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” Albus Dumbledore

Happy Birthday, Harry… or perhaps I should say “Happee Birthdae, Harry”, as Hagrid did that magical day so long ago. And thank you.

 

 

Related post – The  Potter Generation

 

 

7 Responses to “Happee Birthdae Harry”

  • What a great piece, Deb. The Harry Potter stories have always been about more than entertainment, and you’ve managed to remind us of their relevance at a time when it’s important to keep those messages in mind. Thank you.

    • Thank you, LynneRose! Sometimes it’s truly surreal when we watch the evening news and can immediately associate current events with scenes/lessons from these stories. It’s frightening at times, but I have hope that insight like that of Harry and the others exists off the page as well as between the covers. Thank you for coming by!

  • Terrific column, Deb. The children’s books that stay with us through life are the ones that grapple with the problem of good and evil and the courage needed to face up to that problem. Thanks for this.

    • Thank you, Lil! I agree about the books that stay with us through life being those that grapple with good and evil – but I’d add that if they explore the overlap of good and evil, they touch an even deeper place within us, making us think longer and harder. The books that even make us uncomfortable with our own assumptions or assertions are even better. Honestly, every time I read one of these books again – or watch the movies again – I see and feel something new. Happy you liked this post! Thank you for coming by!

  • It’s been 27 years? Oy! lol That’s for putting out a fine piece in tribute to the Harry Potter series.

    I wish for the citizens of this planet what you so eloquently wished for our kids “the same fortitude displayed by Harry and the gang as they face the challenges this world presents. I wish them stamina, foresight, and trust in themselves – no matter what others say – to know they have the ability to change the world. To turn on the lights when times are dark. To see the value in friends, family, and strangers – both familiar and unique. And I wish them the wisdom to know that, while they each have those abilities within themselves, we are all so much stronger together.”

    • Sorry it’s suppose to be Thanks for putting… Now I catch it after it’s posted. Jeez : )

      • No worries, Donna, I understood! 😉

        It’s hard to believe it’s been that long isn’t it? Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) turned 29 about a week ago. He’s a MAN now. Insane. And the character, Harry, is now 38. That’s older than I was when I was first introduced to the series! It’s crazy how much time has gone by, how much life has changed since then and yet…how parts of it have remained the same. Here’s hoping a majority of our kids have been changed in positive ways.

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