If you are like half a million other people planning to watch the opening of the last Harry Potter movie today, like me, you might be looking back over the past 13 years since the first book came out and doing some deep navel gazing about how this story has impacted you and the culture in which you live. For me, I can honestly say Harry Potter gave me friends. Not just fictional, but real, honest to goodness, flesh and blood, funny as hell, friends.
It all started when my oldest was in half-day kindergarten. Being a writer, I also happen to be a HUGE reader. Thankfully my children enjoyed being read to, because really in this household they wouldn’t have had a choice anyway. I LOVE to read out loud. And like my mother before me, I use different voices for each of the characters. It’s fun!
But I digress.
Since I virtually knew no one in the little Washington town we’d moved to from Arizona, and I worked from home (which meant my social interactions with real, live people were limited to the phone most days), I volunteered in my child’s class. At one point I offered to start a reading club. We’d meet in the afternoon on Fridays, have snacks, and read Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone. I wrote up flyers. I handed them out.
Only three moms came.
I read out loud to the children. They each had a notebook where they could draw a picture about their favorite part of the chapter and we’d talk about what we read afterwards. They had snacks. They played. The mommies had tea. It was fantastic. And it gave me a group of friends I didn’t have before. Moms like me, who had kindergarteners who enjoyed books and enjoyed tea and were fun to be with. On the last day of school, we took the children as a group to go see the first Harry Potter movie. Some of them dressed up, so I did too, complete with my burgundy velvet cape and black pointed witch’s hat, because really, how many times as an adult to you get to dress up besides maybe Halloween or a steampunk event?
Out of that year of reading Harry Potter, grew some deep friendships. It was also the start of weekly tea for the moms, which we still do all these years later, even though some of my original friends from that reading club have moved to other states or taken up day-jobs that keep them busy all week. (Seriously half the writing I do would not be accomplished without the support of my non-writer tea friends who help keep me sane and smiling.)
Harry Potter gave me a means to connect not only with my children and their friends, and their parents, but also to make new friends of my own. So, thank you, J.K. Rowling for your magical imagination and fantastic stories. Thank you for giving me, and millions like me, not only entertaining stories, but new friends.