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Our Harry Potter journey

I’ve made some outstanding parental decisions in my time:

Marrying Elysha was probably the best. If you want to have outstanding children, marry an outstanding person. It’s no guarantee that your child won’t be rotten or impossible, but it’s a solid hedge on your bet.

Agreeing to adopt cats after our last two cats and Kaleigh passed away – something I never thought I’d do again – was also very good. The kids adore those cats and have received so much love and laughter from them over the years.

Giving Elysha those many years at home to raise the kids while I found ways to make ends meet – and sometimes barely meet – is something for which I’ll always feel enormous pride.

Requiring the children to turn their dirty clothing right-side out – since I do all of their laundry – is a recent but brilliant innovation.

But here is by far one of my best:

On January 10, 2o21, I began reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to Charlie.

Clara told me that she had no interest in the book, but knowing that she was sitting in her bedroom, devouring her own book, I sat on the edge of my bed, closest to the open door, and began reading to Charlie, loudly. Hoping that my words were making their way into her bedroom, where she might listen and change her mind.

It worked. At the end of that first chapter, she called out, “That actually kind of was interesting!”

A mere 482 days later – on Friday night – the family gathered in the living room for the last 80 pages of the last book in the Harry Potter series. We didn’t typically read 80 pages in a single sitting, but the next day, Saturday, we were headed to New York City – first to the Harry Potter store and then onto Broadway to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, the sequel to the Harry Potter series, written only in play form.

We needed to finish the last book to avoid spoilers and be prepared.

It’s been such a wondrous journey for the family. Endless hours spent reading, discussing, and debating the books. The kids found a simulation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Minecraft and have been exploring ever since. They play a Harry Potter game online that allows them to occupy Hogwarts in a time before Harry Potter arrived. We’ve bought them wands, owls, companion books of spells and beasts, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and so much more.

Charlie owns a full set of Gryffindor house robes. When he wears them, he looks just like Harry Potter.

We all went to and allowed the Sorting Hat to assign us houses, wands, and Patronuses.

Clara and Elysha are Hufflepuffs.

I’m a Ravenclaw. I took the quiz years ago when I first read the books and was sorted into Slytherin, but I have apparently changed since then.

Charlie is a Gryffindor.

After each book, the family sat down to watch the film adaptation. We debated the merits of the book versus the movie. Looked for difference between the two. Ate lots of candy.

During the worst of the pandemic, Elysha, Charlie, and I watched all the Marvel movies for the first time, in order. It was a silver lining in a very scary time. It’s something we’ll never forget.

Harry Potter was even better, both because Clara joined us this time, and I think because their was so much more to wonder about, predict, speculate upon, and adore.

Books really are better than movies.

Our Saturday spent in New York City was spectacular. The Harry Potter store was as good as advertised, filled with toys and clothing and books but also dressed up beautifully based upon the story. A London telephone booth. Hagrid’s enormous shoes. An elevator made to look like the Floo network. An enormous sculpture of a hippogriff in the center of the store. Real props from the films. A butterbeer bar.

The kids loved it. Elysha and I loved it. We vowed to return this summer when we have more time to explore.

The play was even better. I think I spent more time watching the looks on Clara and Charlie’s faces than I did at the stage. The story was very good. The special effects were great. The theater was beautiful. Our seats were excellent.

All was fantastic. Charlie declared it the best day of his life. Clara is still debating but it’s in her top 10.

It’s a day our family will never forget.

Last night, Charlie said, “I’m really going to miss Harry Potter.” There was real sadness in his voice.

I feel the same way.

482 days ago, I read the first sentence of the Harry Potter series:

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

That sentence opened the door to hundreds of hours spent together as a family, sharing in literature and ideas and heartbreak and joy.

Thank goodness I read it loudly enough for Clara to hear that night and fall in love along with the rest of us.