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The clock reads 11:39 pm. In twenty-one minutes, probably before I even finish writing this, it will be my eighteenth birthday. Unlike many birthdays of the past, there is a significance to this birthday. It will lead me into my senior year of high school, into choosing my college. I will register to vote. I will be an adult and have to face all that comes with that.
For now, in my final minutes of childhood, I bid farewell, not just to the years of play-dates and stuffed animals, but to the book and movie series that has defined me for the past decade.
There is something wonderfully symbolic about the Harry Potter franchise coming to its final end on my last day of childhood. Since the second grade, when I received a boxed set of the first three Harry Potter books for Christmas and my brother read them to me as a bedtime story, Harry Potter has been a huge part of my childhood.
I discovered more than just the magic of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The complexities of the background characters, like Neville, the Weasley family, and Luna, were just as important to me. The loyalty, betrayals, and true friendships that the Marauders experienced truly changed the way I viewed literature - and the way I lived my life.
I could talk for hours about the lessons that J.K. Rowling gave the world. “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” “If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” Never betray your friends. There are worse things than death. Never accept evil. Appreciate your friends. Cherish your family. Love is the most powerful magic.
Obvious lessons, and yet, where would I have been without learning these things?
Harry Potter taught me other things too. The pure size of the books, the way that J.K. Rowling refused to dumb down the series taught me that children are capable of much more than they’re given credit for. The phenomenon effect showed me that I was not alone; there were those who loved reading as much as I did.
My mother read the books with me. My friends and I exchanged theories as to what was to come for the series. With my cousin, I explored the amusement park last summer. I watched Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint grow up with me.
It’s 12:01 now. The enormity of it hits me.
Yesterday, at this time, the previews began for the very last Harry Potter movie. A hush descended over the theater. Across the world, I’m sure millions watched as an era began to end.
Just like Harry Potter, my childhood has technically come to its close now. Yet, I have seven books sitting downstairs on my bookshelf and a movie collection that will always be there. More than that, I have the memories of being a part of the true Harry Potter generation.
Harry Potter will never be forgotten because we, the fans, won’t let it. I will, one day, give my children copies of the Harry Potter books. With some popcorn ready, we will watch the movie series. The magic will live on.
The next generation will never know the excitement of Midnight Magic Parties at Barnes and Noble or the anticipation of waiting for the newest movie, but they will know something just as great as that. They will, like so many already have, pick up the books and feel not just the importance of the words on the page, but the magic of a series that somehow, incredibly changed the literary world.
As for me, I take comfort in the words of J.K. Rowling, for I know them to be true. “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."