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Montana Historical Society helps to keep Christmas traditions alive

Christmas is a holiday built on tradition and history
Posted at 12:07 PM, Dec 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-21 14:07:45-05

HELENA — Christmas is a holiday built on tradition and history - and so is the Montana Historical Society in Helena.

"That's why we exist," said Zoe Ann Stoltz, Montana Historical Society reference historian.

"To collect these treasures and their stories. That's the reason we come to work every morning.

Among those treasures in their care are many Christmas memories - some you might know, such as the works of iconic artist Charlie Russell. "He's able to capture the culture in his wonderful watercolors and oils," added Stoltz.

Other treasures might be more hidden, like a Santa suit from the 1950s, 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 during his absence, Santa Claus would arrive at their Christmas party.

Another collection in the archives are ornaments from kids across Montana that won "best theme" at the annual 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 MHS 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 said. "There are miners, loggers, housewives, waitresses, and every one 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.

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