The Daily Southerner
At 73, Janice Price has a wealth of Christmas memories.
“You take your memories out like a bank with money in it,” she said.
One Christmas that stands out in her mind is the year that she got her red-and-white Schwinn bicycle. She was 8 years old.
“I would ride it up and down the street like I was a detective or something, seeing who was being bad,” said Price. “I’d take a notebook with me and I pretended to be writing down everything everybody did. My uncle, Jim Hoell, was a detective with the Rocky Mount Police Department and I wanted to be just like him. I thought he was fantastic.”
As an only child, Price was “overindulged,” saying that her divorced parents and her grandparents tried to “outdo each other” when it came to buying her Christmas presents.
“I think I got skates the same year I got the bicycle,” Price recalled. She also remembers receiving “two doll babies, one dressed like a cowboy and one dressed like a cowgirl,” and a dollhouse with everything to go with it.
At that time, Price had long red hair, which she wore in pigtails. She remembers being a “showpiece” child, especially at Christmastime. Her uncles would come and pick her up and take her to relatives’ houses.
“We lived on a close-knit street and we would go from family to family and see what they got. I would go to my grandmother’s house and see what had been left there,” said Price. The neighborhood was like an extended family to Price.
“People would come in and visit with you. You would all pop peanuts and popcorn,” she said.
Price recollects another community-style Christmas celebration, during her adulthood. That time, the celebration took place on the Air Force base at Minot, N.D., where her then-husband, Charles Hyde, was stationed.
“We had some lovely friends off base,” Price said. She enjoyed going to one family’s house on Christmas.
“The mama would make dolls for the little girls. That was fun,” she said. “She would make homemade candy, and she would always have stuffed cabbage rolls, and a lot of pork.”
Most of the residents were of European, primarily German, ancestry and of the Lutheran religion. They celebrated the 12 Holy Days of Christmas by going to church.
“They had round trunks and they carved their family’s history on it. On Christmas Day, they would bring out the trucks,” said Price. “They would drink champagne with grapes in it and they would toast their ancestors from the old country, who had made them (trunks).”
The giving of gifts was different than what Price was accustomed to.
“They celebrated with the stockings like people used to have. They would put fruit in it and a toy, and it was usually a handmade toy,” said Price.
While married to Hyde, a career military man, Price spent Christmases in California and Puerto
Rico, where “it’s hot and it doesn’t seem like Christmas.” This year, she will spend Christmas in her native North Carolina.