Folktale Finder! Gifts of Riches but Poor Man Beats them All?
May 21, 2016 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Mythfinder help. What's the story where everyone tries to prove their love by giving someone (the father?) expensive things, but someone ( a poor son?) gives a humble but heartfelt gift that pleases the elder the most.

To celebrate my daughter and her boyfriend's college graduation and partnership I gave them a Scrabble game kind of as a "Congrats on Adulthood and Your Being Together" present.

They also got a boatload of money and $$$ presents from his side of the family.

My daughter said the humble, meaningful Scrabble game compared to the expensive but meaningless presents reminded her of this story.

What is this story? It's driving us crazy. Not "Gift of the Magi," more folktale and older.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Lesson of the widow's mite?
posted by fifthpocket at 6:55 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk Literature is a good reference for stuff like this. I'm missing volume 6 (which has the index to the index, as it were), but a quick drunken trawl through the remaining lot turns up:

c. J229.3: Choice: a big piece of cake with my curse, or a small piece with my blessing. Type 480; *Roberts 138; BP I 214.

Also L222.
posted by sourcequench at 10:09 PM on May 21, 2016

This happened in an episode of Breaking Bad:

Walt and Skyler cringe as Elliott begins to open his presents in front of the guests, nervous that the gift they brought will not compete with those of the party's well-heeled guests. One present is a Stratocaster guitar autographed to Elliot by Eric Clapton. Walt and Skyler's gift is a package of ramen. "I love it," Elliott says, recalling how he and Walt survived on this exact brand of ramen as struggling grad students.
posted by ejs at 9:01 AM on May 22, 2016

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