Charles Conrad only lived in the beautifully appointed Conrad Mansion for the final seven years of his life. Anyone associated with the Conrads or who descended from the family will attest that those seven years were the most joyous years in the Mansion.
One aspect of that brief, happy time was the annual Christmas party– the first one was orchestrated only a month after the Conrad family moved into the house. On the evening of Christmas Eve, the many guests would all participate in a beloved ritual- the lighting of the Christmas tree. The 20-foot tall live tree was bespangled with dozens of beeswax candles, which were carefully lit by each guest.
The Conrads were hardly oblivious of the fire danger created by these candles; a houseboy would stand at the balcony with a fire hose poised, ready to extinguish any flames did they catch onto the boughs.
Once each candle was aglow, all other illuminations in the house would be extinguished.
The family and their guests sat around the tree, mesmerized by the gentle glow of the candles and the way that the golden light of the burning fireplace reflected against the many ornaments.
Many things have changed during the 109 years since the last Christmas party was held in that hall, but the Christmas Spirit remains steadfast.
As Mrs. Conrad once said: “There is nothing more joyous to give, to receive, and to share than the Christmas Spirit.” For that reason, I am thrilled to share the Conrad’s Christmas story at the Christmas Tour this weekend.
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