33 years old...you're getting up there; (but don't worry, in my mind you'll always be my age, which is 21 right now). It's hard to believe that 20 years ago you were getting ready to start your third year at Hogwarts, huh?
How have you been these last few years? I'm sure you don't know it, but you've had a pretty enormous impact on the lives of a lot of Muggles, especially the ones who are my age.
The thing is, I almost can't remember a time before Harry Potter; I was so young when the first book was published. I can remember staying up late, with my mom reading the books to me; and even later when the next book came out and we'd go to Barnes & Noble at midnight to buy it. I still remember when the last movie came out: my mom picking me up from work so that she, my brother and I could all go see it together. The theater was filled with people dressed up like you and your friends - people who loved you, and the stories you'd filled their lives with for as long as they could remember. I remember people crying, knowing that this would be the last time the story would ever be new. As much as we'd anticipated that moment, we'd also dreaded it - because it meant that the story was really over. It's incredible really, how much time and thought and love came out of your story, and how much is still coming today.
We grew up reading about you, and even though the books and movies stopped coming years ago, we're all still celebrating your birthday today. You were always around for us, and in a way, you shaped who we all became as we read about you from the time you were 10 until the time you saved the wizarding world (not for the first time) at 17 years old. I imagine we'll spend the rest of our lives reading and re-reading about you, to be honest; learning different lessons from the same words every time.
I just want you to know that even though the world you saved was a fictional one, you still managed to shape our world through the words we read, and the stories you created. Your friendships were our friendships, and none of us are really ready to let go just yet.
So happy birthday, Harry Potter. I hope you know how important you are to a lot of people who you never knew. I'll have a glass of butterbeer for you.