It’s often easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of all that arrives each holiday season, but that doesn't mean you can't take time with loved ones to relax, reset, and snuggle up with some hot cocoa and a good movie. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix highlights the importance of friendship, family, and support not only during the holidays, but through trying times in life. In the film, Harry is forced to confront his emotions, challenge his preconceptions of friendship, and finally he's forced to confront death. Despite some moments of darkness and the stark reality Harry faces throughout this series, like life, you are also met with moments of joy, comradeship, and the belief in something bigger than your problems. Whether it's a snow-laden Hogwarts, dinner with the Weasleys, or opening presents in the Gryffindor common room, the spirit of Christmas touches each film.
In reality, life often gets in the way of a very merry holiday season—loved ones pass away, people get sick, money gets tight, family moves far away, and some people even wholly leave your life. A mix of expectations and disappointments can create a stressful month or two. "If difficulties surrounding the holidays feel insurmountable, remember that you are in charge of what you choose to do." If ever there was a poster child for this sentiment, it would be Harry.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is one of the best films that capture life's complex dynamics and how one can find strength both from within and in accepting the support system you build.
It's okay to not "be okay" during the holidays
You don't owe anyone a performance just because this is "supposed" to be "the most wonderful time of the year." At the beginning of the movie, Harry finds himself isolated, leading to his darker emotions taking hold. He's moody, angry at the world, and bitter after all he's been through. And while not all of Harry's angst and isolation occurs during the holidays, he finds himself struggling to keep his even temperament fans have come to know in the first four movies. His faith in his friends and mentors suffers as he considers his friends, Ron and Hermione, keeping secrets from him and not writing to him over the summer, leaving him to feel more alone. Dumbledore refuses to speak to him. The entire wizarding government turns on him as the Ministry of Magic is unwilling to accept Harry's claims of Voldemort's return. While struggling to cope with so much alone, Harry's anger boils over as he lashes out at his friends and loved ones. Although they call him out on his poor mood and tendency to snap at them as of late, his friends remain loyal by his side, allowing him to come around to his feelings on his own. It's important to process the emotions you face, or you risk them bubbling over, as Harry finds in the film's first part.
Lean on your support system during dark times
There's no right or wrong way to feel. Whatever shows up for you is important, valid, and worth creating space for. In this movie, Christmas break looks different for Harry as he and Hermione join Sirius and the Weasleys for Christmas at Grimmauld Place. While excited to see his godfather, Sirius Black, for the holidays, Harry is still coming to terms with his tumulus emotions and battling a desire to isolate himself. As Harry's worst fears come to life and someone he loves is used as a means to get to him by Voldemort, the holiday festivities get dark for more than just Harry. After an attack on Mr. Weasley, Harry is more convinced than ever that isolation should be his solution, yet Mrs. Weasley will have none of it.
She makes it a point for the holiday to still have a place in their lives, knowing that life is short and holding on to the moments they have with loved ones will bring them all much more comfort than falling prey to what almost was. While it's understandable to feel sadness, anger, fear, or any of the other emotions we find ourselves in when dealing with hardships, it's important to also allow ourselves the small moments of happiness and peace as they can be found. This can be as simple as allowing ourselves the comfort of our loved ones near and reminding yourself to rely on your support system during dark times.
How coming to terms helps you grow
For Harry, the memories of Snape's tormentors being the same men (Sirius Black and his father, James Potter) who filled his heart with such joy is difficult to process. It is when speaking with Lupin shortly after he loses Sirius that it becomes easier to reconcile. While ultimately aiming to make Harry feel better, he too has had to come to terms with some of the character flaws in young James and Sirius and reminds Harry that James and Sirius weren't perfect. They were two proud, kind-hearted men who went to great lengths as they grew and matured to sacrifice all of what they had and were able to protect those they loved and the greater wizarding world as a whole.
Harry is fiercely loyal, making trust, and, as he learns, redemption and humility are important points of contention for himself. To Harry, those who refuse to reflect on their flaws can't meet this need for him. Another relationship tested for Harry in this movie is his dissolving of the newly sparked interest between him and Cho Chang. When she cannot admit that her best friend betrayed them all in exposing Dumbledore's Army to Umbridge, his trust in her ability to see right from wrong is gone. While this is merely a snapshot of Harry's learning his own needs and boundaries and what he won't overlook, it goes a long way to show how complicated it can be to look at things from strictly one point of view. Harry goes a long way to figure out when he can overlook character flaws and when they indicate that someone doesn't align with his values.
In contrast, Sirius, Dumbledore, and his friends are all ones which Harry has been shown they care to keep his trust. Dumbledore apologizes for not talking to Harry and explains his fear of the unknown connection between Harry and the Dark Lord's mind. His friends, despite the constant angst and irritation from Harry this year, don't hesitate to offer to join him to rescue Sirius while building “Dumbledore’s Army” to fight the Dark Lord’s minions. They are there for him when he needs them most. Holidays are temporary – enjoy them while they last
There is no right or wrong, just how you feel. You are worth the space you think you need in this moment. Harry had seen great loss in life before losing Sirius, yet his immediate sense of pain and anger for those left living. In his raw grief, Harry shouts- "Then I don't want to be human!" This line expresses all the pain Harry hasn't yet learned what to do with in response to Dumbledore's "This pain is part of being human." And yet still, by continuing in the only ways he knows how, in allowing his emotions to be, he sees those around him as a look towards a more hopeful future. When Harry finds Luna searching for her clothes, he's offered a distraction from his grief. Luna shares with Harry her loss of her mother and how she deals with her loss. Hoping to one day see her again in the afterlife yet finding joy in the moments and experiences that remind her of her mother. In helping Luna, Harry finds some comfort and consolation in focusing on the living, something he couldn't have if he were to give up the worst parts of being human.
Regardless of the complexities of our inner world, come the end of the year, we can all find some relief in recognizing good or bad this season is just a moment. Don't let the holiday hustle and bustle get to you. Take a deep breath and relax. Enjoy the holidays for what they are and make the best of your situation with the support of your friends and family – no matter what time of year.
A self-described geek, Maria Laquerre-Diego is a CEO and Owner who is committed to increasing access to mental health services and breaking down the stigma surrounding therapy services. As a therapist turned CEO, Maria has developed a unique perspective when it comes to mental health and the barriers surrounding mental health treatment. Influenced by her time at New Mexico State University in the Family and Consumer Science department, and University of New Hampshire’s Marriage and Family Therapy department, Maria has turned her dedication to giving back and supporting future generations of therapists. In addition to supporting mental health providers, Maria takes an active role in addressing the continued stigma of mental health services through the use of pop culture – everything from movies and television shows to superheroes and Disney characters. Maria has spoken about mental health at several local events, has served as an officer on professional boards and has provided training to clinicians all over the country while maintaining her and her family’s roots as Aggies! Outside of the office, Maria can be found spending time with her family and loved ones, exploring the world through travel, and creating cosplays for herself, her husband and their two little ones. Maria is always happy to talk about Star Wars, Marvel and mental health and can be contacted through her practice website www.anewhopetc.org