Magically Charmed at 50
by Pat Henking
(Merrimack, NH, USA)
I am a pastor and have used many Harry Potter stories in sermons, including on Christmas Eve: it is wonderful then to consider Harry Potter setting Dobby free with the gift of stockings. I have gone several times with our Sunday School and youth to Harry Potter book release parties, always at midnight. So my church held a Harry Potter Party for my 50th birthday, and it was totally charming! First the invitations went out – by post, I am afraid, since no owls were available – printed in the Hogwarts and Lumos fonts imported from on line sources. Party goers were asked to give gifts for one of three particular charities, and they were invited to wear character costumes of their own choices.
Lots of Potter tableware was ordered in bulk, including flatware in Gryffindor colors, and the Quidditch stadium tablecloths were essential to the festive decorations. Pumpkin juice and butter beer were made up in black cauldron punch bowls – the pumpkin juice was a recipe that called for pureed pumpkin, spices and light fruit juice while the butter beer was created from golden cream soda and floating vanilla ice cream. The birthday cake was truly magical since there was an edible photo of me dressed as Harry Potter imprinted in the frosting – only careful inspection revealed that it was me. Lots of Bertie Botts jelly beans were available in smaller cauldrons and there were many challenges to try varying flavors. Iced Mice were also offered as were chocolate frogs. Guests pointed their wands at various casserole dishes and crocks to call forth wondrous main dishes.
Adults as well as younger guests did indeed arrive in costume. While many had purchased wands, some carried handcarved treasures from local trees in our forests. I wore Gryffindor robes with a beautiful embroidered patch and a lightning bolt tattoo on my forehead. Others came as various Hogwarts students and professors, while yet others were visiting wizards who were either alumni or alumnae, or who were trained abroad. There were about an equal number of Muggles, but there was little trouble since Slytherin was under-represented. A very young boy dressed as Dobby the House Elf, and he was surely the hit of the evening. His parents wore S.P.E.W. shirts and buttons.
One guest provided a magical book of remembrances made with an ostrich leather cover, and most guests wrote birthday messages in it. Live entertainment was provided by a local band that’s actual name is Nimbus Nine. While there were no levitating broomsticks, flying lessons or airborne Quidditch players, let alone Golden Snitches, there was plenty of dancing, good humor and magical delight in the room. The magic permanently erased any dark feelings of growing half a century old, leaving me under the wonderful spell of believing life has been very good to me and will be for many years to come.