HELENA — Christmas is a holiday built on tradition and history.
And so luck would have it so is the Montana Historical Society in Helena.
"That's why we exist," Montana Historical Society reference historian Zoe Ann Stoltz said. "To collect these treasures and their stories. That's the reason we come to work every morning."
Among those treasures in the Historical Society's care are many Christmas memories.
Some you might know, like the works of Charlie Russell.
"He's able to capture the culture in his wonderful watercolors and oils," added Stoltz.
Other treasures might be more hidden. Like this Santa suit from the 1950's, donated by the Dykstra family of Helena.
According to the Dykstra children who donated the suit, their father would take a well-timed business trip every year around Christmas.
Suspiciously every year in his absence, Santa Claus would arrive at their Christmas party.
Another collection in the archives are ornaments from kids across Montana, like those that won best theme at the Festival of Trees in 2005.
Additions like these to the museum might not seem like much now.
But the way Zoe Ann and the rest of the Historical Society see it, the day-to-day stories provide a snapshot into what makes Montana so special.
"It's vital that we preserve our stories," Stoltz continued. "There are miners, loggers, housewives, waitresses and everyone of them has made history in Montana. And with these ornaments we have preserved a little bit of history created by students of Montana."
So save your ornaments and keep those traditions alive this Christmas, because you are making Montana history.