Today, July 21, 2014, marks the seventh anniversary of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being published, and if you are a Harry Potter fan like myself, this seventh anniversary probably has more significance than a ten or fifty year mark. Seven books. Seven years at Hogwarts. Seven horcruxes. Seven years ago today, I, along with many others, began reading a Harry Potter book for the first time for the last time. Seven years ago today really does mark the end of an era, and the end of my childhood.
Around the year 2001, my dad read me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time. He would read in the voices of all the characters, and at one chapter a night, I thought it was the most magical thing ever. Seventeen days later, we finished the book and my dad was ready to start Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when I told him that I wanted to read it on my own.
That was the beginning of my love for Harry Potter.
Most of my grade school classmates thought I was obsessed and my mom thought I was just going through a ‘Harry’ phase. Okay, I’ll admit that when I was younger I basically went through an I’m-obsessed-with-Harry-Potter-stage, but soon that obsession turned into a great love.
My locker was decorated with posters, pictures and old birthday napkins featuring my favorite boy wizard. I wore Harry Potter t-shirts. Starting in third grade, I went as nothing else for Halloween except as Harry for the next ten years. Also starting in third grade, every birthday party and birthday cake was Harry Potter themed.
I wrote (terrible) Harry Potter fan fiction. Some of my friends and I made up a little song and dance diddy on the playground steps. I took (and made my three best friends take) a Harry Potter class during a winter camp program where we read and analyzed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and made cloaks and had Harry themed treats.
I slept (and still sleep with; I have no shame) a rubber Harry Potter wand under my pillow. I went to early showings of the first three Potter films thanks to my Aunt Laurie’s work. I became obsessed with Mugglenet and the Leaky Cauldron fan sites. I read and re-read the books countless times. I went to midnight premieres and dressed up for them. I honored Dumbledore in my senior yearbook quote.
Harry Potter was my childhood. I still loved things like princesses and Disney and things kids my age liked, but Harry was my one true love, and most knew that even though they didn’t understand it.
As Harry grew up, I grew up. Some of my favorite childhood memories are because of Harry Potter. Here are some of my favorites.
HANNAH POTTER AND THE ALMOST-FAILED TRIVIA CONTEST
As I mentioned earlier, I took a class on Harry Potter. It was a part of an Expanded Studies Program, a camp that met on Saturdays for 9 weeks in the winter for kids to take some fun classes. During the winter of fourth grade, they had a class devoted to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I made all of my friends put it as their first choice. We all got in and, even though it wasn’t that fun for all my friends, it was seriously the greatest thing ever. We read Prisoner of Azkaban and made treats and had tons of magical fun! On the last day the parents came in and we played Harry Potter Jeopardy, kids vs. parents. Everyone on my team, which was basically my friends and I, was like, “Dudes! We got this! Hannah’s on our team!” Totally positive attitudes, and no pressure on me, right? Well, I was WRONG. Yes, we held our own for a while. Only, my dad was on the parents’ team. I thought that wasn’t a huge deal, right? Dad hasn’t read Potter since he read me Sorcerer’s Stone so it’s all good.
He knew all of the answers.
We were losing.
I was losing.
My mom was shocked. My friends were shocked.
I was shocked.
How was my dad doing this?
We started to hold our own.
It starts to get fuzzy there, so I don’t remember if my team actually won because we really knew the final Jeopardy answer and my dad was stumped, or if we knew the answer and my dad lingered and hit the buzzer too late. I remember cheers from my friends. I remember my dad looking at me and smiling as I was dressed as a Hogwarts student.
I interrogated my dad on the ride home. He didn’t answer many questions. My mom is still in shock, saying things like, Ohmygod Mark that was crazy! You knew all the answers! Did you see Hannah’s face she was so shocked!
We arrived home and I sat on the couch. My dad went upstairs and when he came back he handed me my hardback copy of Azkaban.
I used my paperback copy of Azkaban for the ESP class. I didn’t even realize that my hardback copy of Azkaban was missing.
He stealthily read it after I went to sleep.
He told me to turn to the last page. I did, and he had highlighted 16 letters:
DAD WAS HERE. HA HA HA.
HANNAH POTTER AND A BLACK-TOOTHED SISTER
Basically, once my Harry Potter obsession started, there was no going back. Ever single birthday party since then was Harry Potter themed. Harry plates. Harry cups. Harry napkins. Harry tablecloths. Harry banners. Most importantly, Harry cakes. Once I even got a Harry cookie cake. It was great.
One year, my cake had black frosting.
This wasn’t the cake decorator’s best idea.
My sister Maggie is notorious for wanting to eat all of the flowers on the cake, so she took the piece with a huge black flower:
My mom never got a cake with black frosting again.
HANNAH POTTER AND THE MOVIE PREMIERES
I went to see every Harry Potter movie on opening day. But my favorite premiere has to be the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. My dad took a few of my friends and I to Showplace. I dressed up, as usual, and when we got to the theatre, my dad said he was going to sit in the back so I could enjoy the movie with my friends.
He only told me one thing: Don’t do anything to embarrass me.
How was I going to do that? I was excited, but I wan’t going to be ridiculously annoying. (Okay, I can already hear Julie saying how annoying and excited and crazy I was at the midnight premiere because let’s face it, I was super excited and emotional.) Anyways.
My friend David texted me that he was also at the same Showplace but a different theatre.
Fans continue on with their rendition of the Potter Puppet Pals and skits.
Ten minutes later, three kids my age come running into our theatre:
IS HANNAH DOMINIAK IN THIS THEATRE?!?!?!
It was my friend David.
Two seconds later I got a text from my dad:
I told you not to embarrass me.
Harry Potter will always be a huge part of my child hood and my life. I learned many things from Harry and his friends.
Through Luna Lovegood, I learned to see the world with an open mind.
From Neville Longbottom, I learned that hard work and determination will lead to success.
From Snape, I learned that love is the most powerful magic. From Lily I learned that there is no other love like a mother’s love.
Hermione taught me to fight for equality.
Ron taught me to overcome fear.
Harry taught me to do what is right instead of what is easy.
I learned from the trio how to cherish friendship.
J.K. Rowling taught me that no matter where life takes me, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome me home.