Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter Arrives

I don't know how the rest of the families in the world read this book, but our family has a special method. A method which is begging me to break it!

Like many of the other Christians, we banned these books and feared them like the plague when they first became a hit. Only after we learned that sometimes researching the foundations of our own convictions is not always a bad idea did we dare to open the cover of the first book and peer inside. At the time, Mr. Jungle Man was busy working on his PhD and had months worth of "cluster cutting" to do with the data he had collected. This involved hours of uninterrupted, mindless work sitting behind the computer and, seeing as how he had rigged up our computer to be able to work on this task while at home, I devised a way to keep him at home and in my company while he whittled away the hours in front of the computer screen. I read to him. We started late in the series, and judging by the looks of our collection it must have been sometime before the 6th Harry Potter book came out on hardback. (We did this with the Left Behind series as well and actually don't mind getting in late in the rage; it means we can read endlessly through all/most of the books.) This did not mean we were less anxious than the rest of the fans who were awaiting the final book.

Upon our arrival to the Netherlands I spotted the Harry Potter collection in a local bookstore. To my shock, they were all translated into Dutch. The Dutch are very proud about their literature and have a great many authors of their own, so I am not surprised that though they may speak English very well, they prefer to read their books in their own language. This posed a serious problem for us if we wanted to get the Harry Potter book along with the rest of the awaiting world. We could risk our chances at picking up an English version at the American or English Bookstore in downtown Amsterdam or we could preorder a copy off of We chose the latter. Did you know that when you preorder several months in advance you get the book at 50% off? And you get to wait!

This may seem like I'm wandering off of the topic a bit here, but I'm really not! I moved with the minimum amount of clothing I could put in my suitcase along with the rest of our valuables and have been living off of this minimum for almost a year now. Thus, I have had no shorts, a selection of 2 short-sleeved shirts, and every one of my pants either has a hole(s) or a stain. I almost cried on Saturday morning when I woke up, put on my white pants, and heard my husband exclaim, "Honey, why do your pants have blue spots all over them?" He then forced me out the door to go find some replacements at the V&D. Without the kids! The last bit was enough to send me skipping away, but what followed was out of a dream. Have you ever had those dreams, similar to the buffet table dreams, where you walk into a store and every single items is marked off not once, but twice, three times, maybe even four times and the racks are full of cloths you can't take your eyes off of and when you try them on they all fit!?!? That was what I walked into. My arms couldn't carry the load of cloths I had stacked in them when I found my way to the dressing rooms and, to top it off, the steward at the door even let me in with all those items. I found jackets that fit over shirts from the selection across the room and pants that fit out of the junior section! I was in heaven when I headed towards the checkout line with an armload of only the best of the best that I had tried on when I spotted it. A neatly stacked tier of Harry Potter books rested next to the cashier. I couldn't resist; I reached out a few free fingers from under my pile of cloths and let them brush over the pages of one of them. Was I dreaming or were those English words I saw strewn across the pages? Now I crammed the articles of clothing under one arm and grabbed a book off the stack with both hands, tore it open, and gaped at the English staring back up at me. In and instant reality hit me that I was holding a treasured copy of the last Harry Potter book in my hands and that I couldn't reasonably buy it because the one I'd already purchased was currently crossing the English channel. My dream bubble burst in that instant. I stood in the line shaking my head unseeingly at the words I was dying to read. I thumbed the pages one last time, set it neatly on the tier with the rest, and turned my back on them. Oh the restraint it took not to grab it seconds before she totaled my bill, but I left the store with only my beautiful new outfits and focused all emotion into my lovely finds in order to stop myself from thinking about the forbidden pile of Harry Potter books.

As the days rolled by without a ring of the doorbell I have thought about whether that pile of books is still there or have they been sold out. The rain has kept me from making the bike trip "just to see" and today the awaited bell rang. I ripped open the package and held the new book in my lap. Do you think he would figure it out if I read ahead while he was at work? I mean, I've gotten to be a really good oral reader lately, so would he be able to tell when I seamlessly pieced together the emotional inflections and conversations? Besides, we're going on vacation in just a week and we want to make sure we don't have to leave the book unfinished before we leave, so I had better get a head start so it will read all the faster during our evening readings, right? There it sits on the coffee table in front of me now and I am writing my last line . . .

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