Why Harry Potter is more than just a book to me

harry potter book damaged alyx scraproom software scrapbookingI know Harry Potter is a huge, world-wide sensation. And sure, he's been on the back-burner for a bit after all the movies have come and gone. But when I heard that Universal Orlando was opening Diagon Alley this summer, I just could not think of anything else until I booked a trip. 

Because like so many other parents out there, Harry Potter is so much more to me than just a character in a book. It was a gajillion life moments and memories with my kids. 

1997: I actually first learned of Harry Potter at a scrapbooking crop. There was some heated discussion about how some of the moms were not letting the kids read the books because they involved witchcraft. Of course, my interest was peaked - not because I'm into witchcraft, but because they were so vehemently wanting to censor a kid's book. I jumped in with both feet and bravely asked: "Have any of you actually READ the book?"

 

And no one had. Which led me right to Barnes and Noble to buy a copy the next day. I know - I'm kinda weird like that. But that book not only opened a whole new literary world to me, but it also provided many more bonding moments with my children throughout the last 17 years. (Oh dear, I can't believe it's been that many.) We have had so many discussions about friendship, loyalty, determination, finding your own gift, doing the right thing - even with it's the hard thing, and also about death. 

I read all the books and as Alyx got older (she was only 2 when they first came out), I introduced her to Harry, Hermione, Neville, Dumbledore, and the entire wizarding world. She, too, gobbled up the books. At first, I read them to her and then she read them on her own. During that time, Tristan was born, and he jumped in when we would read aloud, and he wanted to be a Potterhead, as well. Sometimes Alyx woudl read aloud to Tristan. I can also remember giving Alyx her own first set of HP books for Christmas one year. They have been read and re-read so many times - the main photo above shows one of the well-worn and well-loved copies that literally fell apart. I will never forget the look on Tristan's face when he absentmindedly dropped the book on the couch, and it split into 2 pieces. He was so distressed because he KNEW that Alyx was going to kill him. We rushed right out to WalMart to buy a replacement copy. The original copy, complete with ribbon tying it together, still resides on her bookshelf.

When Tristan began reading HP, he, too, got his own set of hardbacks. That's him below looking at a picture version at B&N. We were standing outside B&N at midnight every time a new book was released, celebrating with all the other fans. We loved every minute. There were birthday parties and costumes and lots of late nights.

When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal, we were among the first to enter before it even opened to the public. We got up at 5 am to be the first to walk through the gates. Alyx was a little more excited than Tristan, but he was there. Not the best hair days - it was hotter than the surface of the sun in Hogsmeade.

Waiting for Wizarding World to Open

And when we walked through the magical gates, I admit, I did have a tear in my eye. (Don't laugh. Lots of people did!)

It was so much more than cool to just walk through the streets and imagine we were really in Harry's world. The attention to detail was astounding. We got our first Butterbeer and Alyx and I still use our mugs on our desktops.

We got the kids their first Hogwarts' robes, which they continued to wear for Halloween, to DragonCon, and to movie premieres. Alyx and I have stood in line for hours for each of the movie premieres, even on school nights. (Yes, I'm that mom, but when you've got pretty good kids, there have to be some excellent rewards, right? I believe in positive reinforcement and it's working out so far. haha)

At the parks, since the Wizarding World was not yet open, when park guests saw Tristan, who was at that time 10 and wore authentic Harry Potter glasses, walking around in the Hogwarts robe, some people thought he WAS HP and wanted to pose for photos with him. He really got a kick out of that. Alyx also got to meet Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps) at DragonCon one year.

Back to the present: We planned our little weekend getaway to see the new Diagon Alley for a weekend right before school started and I think I may have been more excited than the kids. They know that I love HP, but until they have their own kids, I don't think they will know exactly all the reasons why Harry's World is so special to me. They are both teenagers now (Alyx is in college!), but they ran to the bus stop with me at 6 am and stood in line with me and humored their crazy mother. And I appreciate it and will treasure these moments for the rest of my life. Thank you Alyx and Tristan, for being the best kids ever. I love you.

Here is video of our magical journey 2014 in Diagon Alley

 

 

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