Every family has that one clan member that is the matriarch or patriarch to lead the flock in the right direction. Aunt Margaret was her name and for some reason as a child, while everyone called her Zia Margaret, in my ears, I could only hear, “Tizzy”. So I called her, “Tizzy Margaret”. She never seemed to mind. Every Sunday, Tizzy Margaret took me to church and every special service, I would be beside her which of course included leading up to Easter. Yes, every Friday we had Stations of the Cross and as a child at the age of six, I sincerely, did not know what Stations of the Cross meant. I did enjoy the special attention that I was given by my Tizzy – even though she only seemed to give orders such as do’s and don’ts. But she held my hand and that was a bonus. Kind of like Charlie Brown not hearing the teacher but only seeing the Little Red Haired Girl. I would do anything for my Tizzy.
My Tizzy had some ground rules for the family, such as it was required that we must attend Catechism on Saturday morning. Catechism is to teach orally the Christian beliefs of the Catholic Church in a school setting – such as a Sunday school for Protestants, only Catechism School was on SATURDAY. Listen, Saturday, was the ONLY day (back then) that a KID could watch cartoons. As my granddaughter explains it, “where can a kid watch cartoons around here?” If you did not catch “Tom & Jerry” or “The Flintstones” on Saturday, well you were out of luck. Not only that, but you had to endure all the Protestant kids on Monday talking about the cartoons at school. Oh, how that hurt!!! Talk about wanting to convert!! But I endured through First Holy Communion and Confirmation and Tizzy was proud.
Another ideology, Tizzy Margaret had was Halloween was far too dangerous to go Trick or Treating. Mind you, this was in the 60’s. As a child, I could live with this because growing up Italian, hey, you get all the food and candy you could stuff inside your belt and hide under your pillow case. But once again, I had to endure the kids at school talking about how much candy they received and, I was feeling left out. At the age of nine, I convinced my older brother that we had to take Halloween back and talk our Mom into letting us go Trick or Treating. He brought up a good point that if we got our older cousin to go, then Tizzy Margaret would also give us her blessing for protection and Mom would be off the hook for saying yes. Elaine was elected to be our protection and for costumes, well, a sheet and scissors does the trick – 2 ghosts with 2 pillow cases.
We hit every house and did not stop to catch our breath except to politely say, “thank you.” Excited? We had never seen such treasure because we earned it all ourselves. We hit the jack pot as though we found every Willy Wonka Lottery Bar! Did I mention chocolate bars? M&M’s? My favorite were the Three Musketeer bars. Our sacks were filled as though Santa were ready to hand out toys. But it was getting late so we headed home to show Mom our treasure. My brother and I was loud with excitement as we slammed open the back door to announce our plunder. My Mom quickly toned down our noise as Tizzy Margaret was napping in the living room. It was a kill-joy, but at this point, we literally dumped our 2 sacks on the dining room table, giggling as we sorted out our treasure. We thanked our cousin Elaine for the best time EVER, thanked our Mom and off to bed. Instead of Christmas dreaming of sugar plums, I was going to dream about Three Musketeer bars.
I remember the next morning as though it were Christmas morning. I jumped out of bed to brush my teeth, dress and get ready for school because now I had something to share at school. FINALLY! I would tell about all my candy. I skipped down the stairs and rounded the bend to gaze upon the clean dining room table. WHERE was all the candy? MOM??? What did you do with it? I went looking in the living room only to find my chocolate bar wrappers on the end table. NO! Tizzy Margaret would not do that to me. I saw the look in Mom’s eyes and she saw the disappointment in mine. “Aunt Margaret had some of your candy last night and…” I interrupted with, “SOME!! The chocolate is gone. She didn’t take Tony’s, she took MINE!” Now, I will admit that I was a bit dramatic. At a preteen level, anything would have been dramatic, but do not mess with a person’s chocolate. Right?
Tizzy Margaret justified that she left me the good stuff and the finer European chocolate was better than what was in my sack. Well, I sure wish I could have been the judge of that. Frankly, I had sufficient candy to create plenty of cavities and I paid dearly at the dentist (that’s another story). The most interesting part to this story is that to this very day, I can pass up chocolate very easily. I am not sure if a spell was cast that day or my brain just caved to the possibilities of life without chocolate. However, to this day, that Halloween night was as though it were my first trip to Disney…the magic of the costumes, the surprise and euphoric expectation from beginning to end. Imagination is a powerful tool and dressing up – even under a sheet, one could pretend they were a princess or a superhero. I do know this, one special night meant the whole galaxy in the Milky Way to me.