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the family reunion: the award

August 21, 2009

As I mentioned in my two previous posts regarding the annual family reunion (here and here), my family has an award that is given to one unsuspecting and well-deserving family member each year.  What kind of an award?  The For No Damn Good Reason Award (F.N.D.G.R.).  It’s not an award that is won in the traditional sense, nor it is necessarily the highest of honors.  It is  more of a jibe or a way to tease the honoree in a harmless and loving way.

The original F.N.D.G.R Award goes back long before I was born.  It was masterminded by my grandfather who used an old coffee can and various other pieces of scrap metal to finagle the now infamous trophy.  Each year the recipient is supposed to display the award in a prominent place in their home.  Before the next reunion, he/she will add some sort of trinket or “improvement” to the award in honor of the next victim, er- winner.  One year, a toilet seat was added as a lid to the coffee can award’ another year it was mounted on a small skateboard; and still another year a small Snoopy figure was attached to the top of the toilet seat.  I should add, too, that when the “lid” to the coffee can is open, there is a music box that plays “Raindrops keep falling on my head…”  Gotta love my creative family!!!

The giving of the award is the highlight of the reunion.  It happens toward the beginning of the end of our time together.  The box is brought out; the previous year’s winner says a few words; the award is revealed with its newest additions; and then it is gleefully presented to another poor soul, who typically groans as he or she goes up to receive the prize.

The original trophy was retired in 2000.  It was getting way too big to lug around every year.  When my dad got the award many years ago, my parents had to decide which kid they were going to leave behind so they could fit the massive box in the car.  My sisters and I voted for Charles, but our grandparents stepped in and offered to take the award home so we wouldn’t have to leave someone behind.  The same thing happened when my mom was given the award a few years later (We voted for Charles that time too).

But fear not, the tradition continues!  A freshly emptied coffee can was presented to a member of the younger generation upon the retirement of the original coffee can.  It has taken a few years for the new award to take on character and personality, but it is coming along.

A few years ago, my cousin Kevin unveiled a beautifully crafted boat-like base for the trophy.  The coffee can sits in front of the mast which has the Schwartz crest on the sail.  He attached a small compass in the front of the little boat.  When Kevin’s wife, Jennifer, saw the compass, she smiled and said, “You’re giving that to Rose, aren’t you?”  We all love to tease my sister about her terrible sense of direction.  In reality, she’s not that bad, but we still like to bring up that one time she tried to give Kevin and Jennifer direction.  It’s a good thing they were able to decipher her descriptions or she might still be standing by the big blue thing that says “Maumee” on it waiting for them!  It is a favorite story that will be forever remembered because of the F.N.D.G.R. award.

The award is just another way for us to love each other through laughter and good fun.  I realize it is a rather odd tradition and it looks like a jumbled mess of junk, but it is actually an amazing physical representation of our family and the relationships we have with each other.  Years of memories, stories and history are glued to that monstrosity.  And there will be more to come.  How do I know?  Well, my family loves tradition.  There is one tradition we can’t live without: the family reunion.  And the reunion would not be a reunion without the For No Damn Good Reason Award.

The F.N.D.G.R. Award - Take II

The F.N.D.G.R. Award - Take II

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