I was perhaps irrationally thrilled when Whit chose to be Harry Potter this year for Halloween. Grace was a member of the US Olympic soccer team (you can see her gold medal), a choice that I loved also.
But my Harry Potter obsessed self was delighted when Whit decided to be Harry this year, his 2nd grade year, just as Grace was Hermione in 2010 when she was in 2nd grade. I am thrilled that over the years we have had full Hogwarts representation in our house. Whit’s costume, in case you are confused, is Harry in his Quidditch robes. This is an essential distinction for my son!
I’ve loved Harry Potter for a long time. I read the first four books at the end of the summer of 2000, and distinctly remember walking to a bookstore in Boston the morning after our wedding to buy #4 in hardback to bring on the plane to Bali. I already had #2 and #3 packed. Matt joked that I was on my honeymoon with Harry, so obsessed was I. So I read the series first alone, as an adult. Then I read them again with Grace (we are on #6 right now; she could read them by herself these days but prefers that I read to her, so I do). And now I am reading them for the third time with Whit (we are on #3). I am pleased to say – and not surprised – that new facets of wisdom, insight, and humor reveal themselves with each additional read. I think the first 2 Harry Potter books are the only books I have ever read three separate times.
I am smitten by almost everything about JK Rowling’s magical world. I think Harry is a brave, honest, human character with tremendous inspirational power. I think Hermione is a heroine for the ages. I adore the way JK Rowling asserts that school can be refuge and home, a place we are known and loved, a place where we learn about our own power, interests, and passions.
I think of Hogwarts often. I’ve written about how my blog is my own pensieve. Albus Dumbledore is my absolute favorite character in all of fiction (and that, my friends, is saying something). One of my life’s central themes, that of light and dark, is the animating trope of the whole series. JK Rowling has much to say about the inevitability of light and dark in every life, about their intertwined nature, and about how one casts the other into relief.
Some of my favorite – of a long, long list – lines from Harry Potter are these:
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
Of course this is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?
It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.
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.
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