'When you walked through the wreath, you knew you were home'

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:39

The Nieves carry on a 50-year Kudla family tradition at home in Warwick Editor’s note: I cannot tell you how many times readers have shared their stories and photos with this newspaper, and in doing so making the paper the better. This is one of those occasions. Last week, Kim Nieves called, then e-mailed the essentials of this Christmas story. There were a few more e-mails which included several more photos. Here is her story: My dad, William Kudla, first created a huge wreath for his front porch more than 50 years ago, not long after he built his house on Alps Road in Wayne, N.J., in 1958. He built that first wreath in 1960, I believe. He used to make grave covers of greenery for the holidays and, while he was at it, he decided to make the wreath. He had to weld together a frame and build it from scratch because it was so large - easily more than 10-12 feet in diameter. As we grew up, my four sisters, brother and I helped dad build and decorate the wreath from scratch during the holiday season. The wreaths also seemed to grow larger each year. It became a cherished tradition. We always felt it brought us the spirit of Christmas because, as we walked through its giant opening each year, we knew we were home. Dad is now getting up there in years, and about four years ago, he felt that building the wreath was too difficult a task to do for his own home anymore. But the six of us couldn’t bear the thought of this tradition coming to an end. At that time Dad decided he was done, my husband Hector and I were putting an addition on the house. One night the idea just came to me. We would design our entry to accommodate Dad’s wreath! This is now my fourth year as keeper of the wreath. The first year building it completely by myself. My sis helped me finish the decorations and made me a new bow. I keep it large - larger than ever. The size is important because my dad wanted us to walk through the wreath to the Christmas spirit inside. So here is this year’s wreath, with all its Christmas magic! I proudly carry on this family tradition in honor of my parents, William and Mary Kudla. They truly are the best. All our love to you, Mom and Dad. And Merry Christmas! Love, Marion, Pat, Barbara, Kenny, Darlene, and me - Kim Nieves