A Birthday Toast to Jo and Harry

Many of us grew up with the Harry Potter series, and some of us were introduced to the wizarding world at different stages in our lives. However, when you were introduced to the fandom doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What truly matters is the why—why is the Harry Potter world so alluring? Why, after all this time, are we as obsessive as we were when we were first introduced? The answers to these questions, of course, vary from person to person, but there is one answer that is universal among all of us.

J.K. Rowling.

Jo’s imagination and flawless writing ability is what drew us in from the very first page of the very first book. She introduced us to the young wizard Harry Potter and allowed us to progress with him through his adolescence. She transported us to a fictional world that seemed incredibly realistic—so realistic, in fact, that many of us are still waiting for our Hogwarts letters. She led us to experience life in the pages of seven books, and throughout it all, she gave us hope when there wasn’t any to be found.

By giving us Harry Potter, Jo gave us so much more than a story of a young boy going to boarding school. She gave us an iconic character—Harry—who made me appreciate childhood and adolescence more than I ever thought a book series would do. Even though I wasn’t introduced to the series until my senior year of high school, I felt as though I experienced my childhood again with Harry.

When Harry got his Hogwarts letter, I felt as though I’d finally gotten mine, too. As he formed friendships with Ron and Hermione, I knew that I’d gained lifelong friends as well. I found myself mourning for parents who had died with love in saving a life, when my own were very much alive. When Harry entered into his second year, I’d felt like I, too, had a new home. When Harry defeated the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, I felt as though I’d accomplished something extraordinary with him. When he learned that Sirius Black was his godfather, I gained a new member of my family. The moment when Cedric Diggory was killed in front of Harry by Voldemort, I cried for the loss of a friend. When Voldemort made his return, I feared for the safety of all those in the wizarding world, and I especially feared for Harry. With Harry, I fought with Dumbledore’s Army and experienced the ups and downs of the hormonal teenage years even though mine were coming to an end, and I felt the loss of a godfather, going beyond the veil. Harry and I learned about Horcruxes together and gained insight on Voldemort’s past. With Harry, I watched Dumbledore plummet from the Astronomy Tower after he’d been killed by Snape. With the trio, I hunted Horcruxes and attempted to defeat Voldemort. Alongside Harry, I watched two best friends fall in love. I fought along those who participated in the Battle of Hogwarts, and I experienced the loss of many loved ones. I cheered Harry along as he defeated Voldemort, once and for all.

Throughout the series, I, and many other readers, experienced love, friendship, depression, joy, fear, hope, and many other emotions that are unexplainable. Jo and Harry let me experience life with them in a way that would not be possible without the Harry Potter series. It’s for these reasons that Hogwarts will always welcome me home and that when people ask me if I’m still obsessed with the Harry Potter series after all this time, I’ll say, “Always.”

So on Jo and Harry’s birthday, I raise my imaginary glass filled with butterbeer, take a bite from my chocolate frog, and toast J.K. Rowling, for the happiness that she’s given us for many years and for being the one to give life to such an incredible fandom, and Harry Potter, for not only being the Boy Who Lived but also the boy who lived to give everyone a story so great that it continues to live on years after it ended.

Happy Birthday, Jo and Harry. I wish you both a life filled with happiness and hope that things will always be well.