The Christmas spirit graced Conrad Hilton’s life from cradle to grave—literally. He was born on Christmas Day (in 1887) and the last words carved on his gravestone read, Christmas is forever.

The Christmas spirit graced Conrad Hilton’s life from cradle to grave—literally. He was born on Christmas Day (in 1887) and the last words carved on his gravestone read, Christmas is forever.

Giving came naturally to Conrad. As a boy, he painted fences for the Sisters of Loretto in New Mexico, and as he went through life, he gave his resources, his time and his name to many worthy causes. He established the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in 1944 to carry out his charitable intentions worldwide. The Foundation’s giving philosophy is based on Conrad Hilton’s last will, which reads, in part, “There is a natural law, a Divine law, that obliges you and me to relieve the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute. Charity is a supreme virtue, and the great channel through which the mercy of God is passed onto mankind. It is the virtue that unites men and inspires their noblest efforts.”

Guided by his Catholic faith and an undying belief in the brotherhood of man, he genuinely believed in the power of travel to foster intercultural understanding. His motto, World Peace through International Trade and Travel, became the watchword of Hilton Hotels Corporation and he became known as Innkeeper to the World. From 1951 to 1970, Conrad sent thousands of Christmas cards and published annual Christmas advertisements/inspirational messages in magazines such as Time, Business Week, The New Yorker, and U.S. News and World Report.

Barron Hilton’s son Steve Hilton (Chairman, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation) has fond childhood memories of Christmas dinner at ‘Granddad Connie’s’ Bel Air mansion. While it was a formal family affair in the dining room and coats and ties were the order of the day, Steve also seized the opportunity to enjoy skateboarding in Granddad’s basement!

Following on the heels of Christmas comes New Year’s Day, when many of us take stock of our lives and reflect upon how we are spending our time. Here are some of Conrad’s perspectives on the subject of time:

I have found it a healthful rule to close my business day with the setting of the sun. I have learned to put down and set away whatever the day has brought, and I have learned to find relaxation. To relax is to restore one’s self. (Conrad Hilton’s Foreword to The Silver Spade by Whitney Bolton, 1954)

Don’t cling to the past. Not through regret. Not through longing. To do so is to tie yourself to a memory, for yesterday is gone. It is wisdom to profit by yesterday’s mistakes. It is fatal to hang onto yesterday’s victories. You limit yourself. The future should be expanding. Yesterday’s experiences are the foundation on which you build today. (Be My Guest, Conrad N. Hilton, 1957, p. 285)

If you are content with planting radish seeds you’ll get radishes in a few weeks. When you start planting acorns, the full-fledged oak may take ten years. And I was beginning to learn what all gardeners must know—patience. (Be My Guest, Conrad N. Hilton, 1957, p. 182)

How fitting that our new campus is nestled among oak trees. We, too, practice patience, as we cultivate long-term projects with our grantee partners in an effort to make a positive difference in the lives of those in need.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is structured to exist in perpetuity. Christmas is indeed, forever.