This weekend was a busy one. The vacation to England beckons and there were things to organize: which cousin/friend will host the three of us for which night(s), hire car, events for the kids, other vacation plans, etc.
It was also the weekend that the final Harry Potter movie hit the movie theaters.
The memories are potent. The family arrived in the USA from Switzerland in August 2001 and we and two other families saw the first Harry Potter movie late that year. Each movie was a family affair and became a tradition for us.
We saw the first two or three movies in the series with two other families. After that, we stopped seeing one of the families (the mother became hyper-competitive about very small things and relations were strained) and they dropped out.
(As an unrelated note, this mother above is very nice and very bright in many ways. She is also musically-inclined and ran a music school in London at one time. That family had a tradition of going to the south-west of England each year for Xmas and the event at the hotel included a number of other families who came back each year. She told one new wife at this gathering that she did a “very good job and will get better” with the grand Xmas sing-along and later realized she’d been talking to Annie Lennox. Oops.)
The second family dropped out of our tradition after it imploded. It emerged they’d been living together in a sexless marriage for the previous 12 years (sleeping in the same bed — how could they do that for so long without not even once feeling The Urge??). He got caught cheating with another woman (although, if it’s a sexless marriage, “cheating” seems too strong a term) and she divorced him.
For the first six movies, all five of us saw the movies for the first time together. My oldest daughter, Amélie, saw the first of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies with her best friend last year and again this year. She moved on a little as she grew up.
This time, for the last movie, the four of us went along. I had the option to exclude my runaway wife (especially as the kids didn’t want her there), but I like developing traditions and enjoying the bonds they create. In this case, it just seemed the right thing to do to include her and complete the set of movies as we started them.
I shed some tears, not just for the tender moments in the movie (even the tough-looking guy sitting on my right with his girlfriend wiped some off his cheek — don’t judge me!) but also for the end of the set of books we’ve read and the movies that we’ve seen since our arrival in the area, and for the end of my marriage.
I have started to move on to other things and prepare myself for whatever comes next in my life. I’m going to miss the thrills that the girls got from each new Harry Potter book (I was even talked into lining up at midnight with other parents for the last two books). I miss the family we had too, and there’s no reason to be ashamed of feeling sad about what’s been lost and the significance of this end of an era.