December 2013

Dec_coverIn a first-of-its-kind feature, Our State magazine presents “A Prayer for North Carolina” in its December 2013 issue.

Editor in Chief Elizabeth Hudson invited people of faith from the mountains to the coast — rural preachers, urban ministers, and religious scholars — to share their interpretations of “a prayer for North Carolina.” So unique was the undertaking that it also inspired a first-of-its-kind digital storytelling project at

On this fully-interactive website, readers can listen to the writers read their work, see photographs of places across North Carolina that inspired these essays, and enjoy exclusive video and musical compositions arranged just for us. Watch a special introduction to the issue.


A Handmade Christmas by Sarah Perry

Photography by Emily Chaplin
In 1925, in a remote corner of southwestern North Carolina, far from the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, far from the Pisgah National Forest, far from the glittering lights of Asheville, a woman sang.


A Prayer for North Carolina

Photography by Travis Dove and Bill Lusk
We invited people of faith to share their prayerful reflections. Here, you’ll find meditations – heartfelt messages that deeply reflect the spirit of our state. Visit beginning November 15.

In the Communion of the Saints by Jimmy Tomlin

Photography by Jon Carter
In God’s Acre, a Moravian graveyard in Winston-Salem, status and race are not factors for burial sites. The church’s postmortem rituals decree that in death, we are all equal.

Curbside Christmas by Michael Parker

Photography by Matt Hulsman
Small-town holiday parades impart memories that last a lifetime – from the sound of the marching bands to the sight of beauty queens atop hot rods to the unexpected treat that distinguishes one spectacle from the other.

Making the Cut by Leah Hughes

Photography by Geoff Wood
Fraser firs may be the big tree on campus at lots across the state, but on Down East cut-your-own-farms, cedar, cypress, and pine are the trees that growers vote most likely to succeed.

Christmas Unpacked, Unwrapped, Unforgettable by Susan Kelly

Illustration by
The rituals and customs of holidays past often dictate how we celebrate Yuletides of the present – for better or worse.

From Manhattan to Magnolia Farm by Bryan Mims

Photography by Lissa Gotwals
Erin Weston left North Carolina wide-eyed with an art history degree and a dream of making it in the Big Apple. When her plans fell through, she returned to the Triangle to create luxury wreaths that decorate homes across the state – especially at Christmas.



What You Can’t See by Elizabeth Hudson

Photography by Sara Brennan-Harrell

Our State Quiz

Pioneers in the Sky by Alan Hodge

Illustrations by Suzanne and Edgar Cabrera
This month, we celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight and other early feats of aviation.

State Symbols

Oh, (State) Christmas Tree by Drew Perry

Illustration by Kyle T. Webster
A Fraser fir, always and only. Folks who’d stoop to taking home something like a Scotch pine? Amateurs.

Carolina Culture

Balsam Encore by Django Haskins

Photography by Matt Rose
There are no televisions at this mountain retreat, where an older form of entertainment keeps guests coming back.

Pocket Portraits by Caroline Leland

Photography by Lissa Gotwals
An artist in Welcome gives her customers a way to keep the animals they love close to their hearts.

Take a Book, Leave a Book by Jonathan Black

Photography by Lissa Gotwals
Those little wooden boxes aren’t birdhouses – they’re libraries, and one may be coming to a street near you.

Stitches and Squares by Josh Shaffer

Photography by Geoff Wood
Each of our community colleges has a place on this quilt, a handmade tribute to learning.

Book Review

Tar Heel Town

Denton by Leah Hughes

Photography by Lissa Gotwals
This Piedmont town feels like home, whether you’re from here or not.

Tar Heel History

A City, Beneath by Chuck McShane

Photography by Matt Rose
A professor, determined to unearth a 16th-century culture buried in Morganton’s foothills, discovers the first Spanish fort in the interior United States.

Carolina ‘Cue

Midwood Smokehouse by Jeremy Markovich

Photography by Emily Chaplin
For traditional N.C. barbecue, Charlotte isn’t your best bet. One man knows why, and he hopes to change that.

The Civil War: The Invincible Ironclad by Philip Gerard

Photography by Corey Cradle
One man builds a warship that seems unsinkable, and his sworn enemy vows to destroy it.
(Volume 3, Part Twelve)

Good Food

Country Ham’s Beauty by Jeffrey Turner

Photography by Joshua Curry
In Duplin County, Westwater Country Ham dry cures a Christmas classic.

A Christmas Breakfast by Jeffrey Turner

Photography by Matt Hulsman
Brighten your Christmas morning with three easy-to-follow recipes.


Scents of the Season by Kathleen Purvis

Photography by Matt Hulsman
Remembering the blessing of North Carolina’s fragrant holiday foods.

Out & About

Forest City Light by John Trump

Photography by Darryl Smith
Spend December captivated by a joyous, native glow.

Tar Heel Image

Mountain Meditation by Stewart Plemmons of Jacksonville Beach, Florida
St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope, Madison County

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