The December 2019 Issue

In December, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The simplest things — a fir tree, a sugar cookie, a string of lights — transform (poof!) into symbols of the season. This month, we share the festive traditions and events that spark holiday magic in your family — and in ours.

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In December, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The simplest things — a fir tree, a sugar cookie, a string of lights — transform (poof!) into symbols of the season. This month, we share the festive traditions and events that spark holiday magic in your family — and in ours.


From Elizabeth Hudson: Miracle on Fayetteville Street

by Elizabeth Hudson

Our editor in chief receives an unexpected Christmas gift — one rooted in a family legacy that continues to live on.

Quiz: Santa’s Shopping List

by Alan Hodge

When the folks at the North Pole need a little help, they head to North Carolina Christmas shops and craft fairs for toys, trimmings, and lots of holiday spirit.


We Live Here

Downtown: Statesville

by Jodi Helmer

Horse-drawn carriages, carolers on the sidewalks, storefronts aglow with Christmas lights: In December, downtown Statesville is full of comfort and joy. Even after the season ends, the magic lingers.

Sanderson Wreaths Create Homegrown Holiday Cheer

by Jennifer Brookland

Christmastime at the Sanderson farm brings family, friends, and neighbors together to craft wreaths for the holidays.

This Shelby Coffee House Is Home to Full Cups and Full Hearts

by Rebecca Sitzes

A coffee shop in Cleveland County satisfies cravings for caffeine, conversation, and good company.

A Clean Start: Soapmaking in Hickory

by C.A. Carlson

A near-fatal accident led Katye Fredieu to soapmaking to care for her wounds and her community.

All Good Things …
“Young at Heart” Comes to an End

by Drew Perry

After five years and countless journeys around North Carolina, The Toad, The Wee, and their parents look ahead to new adventures.


But Once a Year: 5 Vintage Christmas Recipes

by Sheri Castle

Cherished family recipes, passed down like prized heirlooms, seem extra special on the holiday table. One bite, one whiff, is time travel.

Five Points Restaurant Is a Blue Ridge Treasure

by C.A. Carlson

In Asheville, one old-school diner serves up the hamburgers and hospitality that have drawn regulars for nearly 50 years. For those loyal customers, all roads lead to Five Points.

Creating Christmas Magic

A Christmas Village at the North Carolina Governor’s Mansion Creates Childlike Wonder

by Jeremy Markovich

Charlie always liked building small towns. Very small towns. Small ceramic towns, to be exact. During the holidays, he has a kindred spirit at the governor’s mansion.

A Gift from Above: Presents by Parachute in Manteo

by Robyn Yiğit Smith

During the Berlin Blockade in 1948, a young pilot launched a mission to drop parachutes of candy to the hungry children of the city. Each December, that same pilot takes to the skies over Manteo to show that one generous gesture is as powerful as ever.

The Toymaker’s Elves

by Jimmy Tomlin

In the 1960s, the Belk department store windows in Thomasville were a Christmas wonderland. Today, a real-life Geppetto brings the wonder of festive shop windows back to life.

Brevard’s McGaha Chapel Is Tiny, but Mighty

by Susan Stafford Kelly

Hidden in the woods, McGaha Chapel helped bridge a community’s divisions nearly 150 years ago. At Christmastime, folks still come together here to lift their hopeful voices in holiday song.

Warm Fuzzies: Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra

by Jen Tota McGivney

Watching the Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra play holiday standards never gets old — even when the kids do.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Switches Gears During the Holidays

by Jen Tota McGivney

Charlotte Motor Speedway turns into the slow lane at Christmastime, when even NASCAR drivers downshift to take in the sights.

Glen Alpine Santa Delivers Good Cheer

by Graham Averill

Every Christmas, the jolly man with the white beard collecting mail at the Glen Alpine Post Office dons a red suit and becomes Postmaster Santa.

The Concord House of 10,000 Santas

by Katie King

What began as a hobby to help Judy Barnhardt out of a rough patch became a house full of jolly ol’ St. Nicks — and a way to say thank you.

Find Christmas Magic Aboard the Jingle Bell Trolley

by C.A. Carlson

Tinsel and twinkling lights, cookies and hot chocolate, and a visit with you-know-who. All aboard the Craggy Mountain Line!

An Atomic Tradition in Brevard

by Drew Perry

A quirky exhibit dedicated to an even quirkier collection brings laughter to the holidays.

Eggnog Stars in Raleigh Porch Parties

by Katie Saintsing

A holiday hostess makes sure her friends’ cups run over — with love and eggnog.

Eastern Lights Bring Extra Holiday Sparkle to Cary

by Chloe Klingstedt

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival splashes its electric rainbow across the Triangle sky each winter, shining bright during the holiday season.

Silent Night in the Kitchen

by Sheri Castle

The stockings are hung, the cookies are out, and the house is now miraculously quiet. Just one more thing to do before bed: make the breakfast dish that’s become a tradition.


Season’s Greetings: North Carolina Holiday Cards of Past & Present

by Katie Saintsing

A card always means more at the end of the year, delivering glad tidings and family news, joy and hope, to mailboxes across North Carolina.

Meet Clarence Claus

by Mark Kemp

The Santa that so many have been waiting for has already wrapped Oprah’s presents and thousands more since an Apex couple created him for a line of holiday paper and stationery. Soon, he will appear under trees across the state.

A Holiday Poem for the Ages

by Susan Stafford Kelly

Seventy years ago, Elinor Hawkins’s professor asked her to choose a book she’d collect for the rest of her life. She picked “The Night Before Christmas.” Today, she has more than 1,000 copies.

The 1950s: The Squire of Haw River

by Philip Gerard

How a dairy farmer from Alamance County ascended the political ladder to become governor, then senator — never forgetting his rural roots along the way.

Starboards of Wonder at the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla

by T. Edward Nickens

In early December, seafaring sorts deck the, well, decks with lights and holly, parading their sailboats, yachts, and skiffs along the coast from Morehead City to Beaufort.


North Carolina Events Calendar: January 2020-February 2020

by Our State Staff

Ways to play this month in the Old North State.

The Outer Banks Society That “Believes” the Wright Brothers Never Flew

by Jeremy Markovich

The Man Will Never Fly Memorial Society was created in 1959 because, in the words of its founders, they were bored.