My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Magic’

Thank you for twenty years of magic


Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publishing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone, so if you’ll allow me a moment of sappy self indulgence here, I’m about to get real nerdy.

People like to smile indulgently at me now when I say I grew up alongside Harry and his friends, but I’m really not over exaggerating. From the time I was ten years old, through all the misery and trauma and loneliness and heartbreak of childhood and adolescence, they were there. They were a crutch, a comfort, an escape, an identity. As J.K. Rowling once said, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home, and some days that was the place that felt most like home to me.

Whenever I felt lonely or scared or unhappy, I knew I could find comfort in the familiar waterlogged, dog-eared pages of those books, the binding creased and failing in places.

I remember the first time I read them like it was yesterday. I was 10 years old, tiny but precocious. It was hard to tell what I had more of then – hair, brains, or spunk. I was in the library at my elementary school, where I was on first name terms with the librarian, clutching a stack of books half my height and five times my grade level when I spotted it there on the display rack, all blue and red and purple and magic.

In 2000, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a hot commodity, even in my lower elementary school. It was surprising that it was even in stock, and I couldn’t help but think that it must have been a sign, waiting there just for me to find it.

When I got home from school that afternoon, I retreated to my room and didn’t come out until the third time I was called to dinner. There, laying on my purple and white bedspread, I met my new best friends for the first time. Harry, with his heart of gold and unfailing courage; Ron, always loyal and quick to laugh; and Hermione, who was, to borrow more of Ms. Rowling’s words, my ink and paper twin.

From then on, Harry’s story and mine were intertwined. At age 16, ugly crying over the final chapter of Deathly Hallows at one in the morning. On my 18th birthday, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, feeling like I could breathe for the first time in months when I saw the castle I’d inhabited in my head for years.

Sometimes I feel that, even with all the words I’ve learned since age ten, all the things I’ve experienced and felt, I will never be able to adequately describe the bottomless pool of love I have for this series. It isn’t so much a book series, a movie franchise, a set of characters, as it is part of my identity. I truly don’t who or how I’d be today if I hadn’t picked up that worn hardcover book in fifth grade.

It taught me the value of love and loyalty and light and friendship. It taught me that courage is never the same thing as fearlessness. It taught me how to speak my mind, how to stand up for what I believe in, how to fight for those who cannot defend themselves, and how to appreciate the little moments of joy amidst the chaos.

Now, two decades have elapsed since Harry Potter entered our collective lives. Hundreds of thousands of fans and friends have come to love this series. Some have already begun passing it on to their children, the second magical generation.

Harry’s story has come to mean so many things to so many different people. A whole generation who learned to love reading, to stand up for their beliefs, to make their own magic.

I know so many people, personally and by reputation, who have used Harry Potter as a way of coping with the ugliness that reality often throws our way. So many stories of strength and bravery and survival, fueled by the magic of rustling pages, midnight premieres, a common bond that draws us all closer.

Even as I sit here in my sunny corner office at my “big kid” job, my eyes rest on the thin piece of resin and wood, fashioned into a replica of Hermione Granger’s wand. After all these years, she’s still helping me be the woman I always wanted to be. While I’ve come to fall in love with half a dozen other ladies of the wizarding world – Tonks and Luna and Ginny and Lily and Molly – Hermione will always have a special place in my heart.

At ten years old, I was all frizzy hair, big words, and unfettered, self-righteous bossiness. I was what many over the years, both kindly and unkindly, have referred to as an insufferable know-it-all. Hell, at 30, I still am. Because Hermione Granger taught me that being bossy is a good thing, that breaking the rules is okay sometimes when you have a cause you believe in, that books and cleverness are important, but not as important as friendship and bravery.

So what can I say, nearly 20 years later? Thank you seems too trite, but it’s all I have. So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for changing and saving my life in ways I am still only beginning to unravel. Thank you to Harry and Ron and Hermione for teaching an entire generation to be better and braver and bolder.

The other day, I picked up my well-worn 17-year-old copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s been awhile since I took the time to sit down and read it, but as I did, I felt like I was rejoining my ten-year old self. Somewhere, lost in time, she’s always been there, hiding in a blanket fort with a flashlight and a book twice her size. She’s been waiting patiently for me to come find her again, reunited after all these years. It’s been a long time, she says. Sit down. I’ll read you a story about love and dragons and magic and some kids who changed the world. I think they’re friends of yours.

I Believe in the Magic of Christmas

This past weekend as I was out and about, finishing up the last of my Christmas shopping, something pretty magical happened.

I was standing in the checkout line–along with the rest of the state of Georgia ( I guess everybody had the same idea) when something, or should I say, someone caught my eye.

He was of average height, had snow-white hair complete with matching beard, and had a belly that looked like it had enjoyed many a plate of Christmas cookies over the years. He was wearing a red plaid shirt, tiny black glasses, and seemed to have an undeniable sparkle in his eye. He walked past me, tipped his hat, and winked in my direction.

I smiled back, and continued to move ahead in the line. But when I turned to see if he was still there, he was gone.

I was inching my way, getting ever closer to the cashier when all of a sudden the jolly gentleman was standing right behind me.

“Well hello there, miss! Such a wonderful day to be spreading some cheer, don’t you think?” he asked, his voice sincere and very sweet.

I looked up at him, that sparkle still glinting behind those tiny black eye glasses. “Oh absolutely,” I said. “I love this time of year, even though it can get a little hectic sometimes. So are you all set for Christmas?” I asked him, all the while trying to look cool while attempting to not drop the gifts I had in my hand. Note to self: shopping carts are your friend.

He looked at me and smiled. “It’s my favorite time of year too, although I still have quite a lot to do. It’s a good thing I’ve got a lot of help,” he said with a laugh.

As I stepped forward, the cashier now in sight, I turned toward my new friend and wished him a very merry Christmas. He smiled, thanked me, and handed me a candy cane from his coat pocket.

“You have a very blessed Christmas, my child,” he replied, that same sparkle in his eye. I took the candy cane, thanked him, and turned to walk to the checkout counter. But when I looked over to see if he was still there, he was gone.

I’m not sure what I saw, or who I met that day in the store, but I know that it took me back to when I was a little girl in footy pajamas, anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve night. A time when anything was possible, when the air was full of wonder and excitement.believe

I, Wendi Hansen, am a believer.

I believe in the magic of Christmas. I believe in the dreaming and wishing and hoping that this time of year brings. I believe in the spirit that Santa Clause represents; the kindness and acceptance, the love, the unselfish giving to others without expecting anything in return, and having faith in something that you can only see in your heart.

Going beyond the man in the giant red suit and sleigh with eight flying reindeer, there is magic elsewhere. It is found in the miracle of baby the Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph in a simple manger in Bethlehem.  It is found in the miracle of the oil lasting eight days in the Temple in Jerusalem. It is found in the eyes of a child, in the hugs from family and friends who have gathered together to celebrate, and in the overwhelmingly giving spirit that lies within everyone.

There is magic everywhere.

Sometimes you don’t see it, or hear it. Sometimes it sneaks up on you in Kohl’s on a Saturday afternoon, reminding you what the true meaning of the season is.

But it is always there.

I believe in the magic of Christmas.

Do you?



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