Only the Best – A Celebration of Gift Giving in America

Only the Best

A Celebration of Gift Giving in America

By Stuart E. Jacobson

The wonder is that gift giving has never before had a book of its own—so basic is the giving impulse to the human spirit, so ancient its lineage and so all-pervasive its tradition. Only the Best, taking America as its particular province, is a deserved and delectable tribute to the art of elegant and imaginative gift giving. Exquisitely illustrated with scores of large color  photographs, this unique book carries the reader into the lives of some of the best-known and most influential Americans. Amazing, endearing, and amusing in turn are the intimate glimpses these pages afford into personal relations as expressed in gestures of generosity.

Gift giving in America is a tradition and a talent. We give gifts the way we go to the office, routinely and continually—if not always as conventionally. Reflecting our tendency to flamboyance and our inclination for the sentimental, gift giving in America has reached from the gilded edges of the marketplace to the innermost corners of the heart.

Grandma Moses and Lillian Gish - star of 1952 television drama
Grandma Moses and Lillian Gish – star of 1952 television drama based on My Life History – Moses autobiography

Grandma Moses to Lillian Gish

Lillian Gish: “Grandma Moses gave me this painting a little after I did the film ‘Grandma Moses’. She came to my home for dinner with her daughter. Her daughter was an old woman, but Grandma wasn’t. She didn’t know how to say no, and she didn’t know about the market value of her paintings. Nancy Hamilton, writer and producer of such musical reviews as ‘One for the Money and Two for the Show’, wanted to buy one, but it was too expensive, and Grandma said, ‘We could cut it in two and sell her half.’ “I remember asking her, ‘Grandma, you have lived so much longer than I, are there things you know that you could tell me that would help me with my life?’ And she thought for a long time and said, ‘You know, if I have a problem, I do the very best I can; and then I say, Ishkabibble, which in real language means It’s in God’s hands.’ It was so beautiful for her to tell me that. Grandma to me represented what America was all about.”

Only the best : a celebration of gift giving in America - Lillian Gish and a gift painting from Grandma Moses
Only the best : a celebration of gift giving in America – Lillian Gish and a gift painting from Grandma Moses

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