Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein Xmas Artist Profiles: Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein was Jewish. Even so, she celebrated Christmas. In Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company, James R. Mellow describes a Christmas celebration at the home of Stein’s cousin Julian Stein when Gertrude and her partner Alice B. Toklas visited his home in 1934:

The Christmas stockings were a hit – Gertrude and Alice had been obliged to hang theirs. On Christmas morning the children and the two elderly celebrities had trooped into Julian’s bedroom to open up their gifts, all dime-store trinkets, which brought guffaws of laughter. Gertrude especially appreciated a little poem written by [Julian’s wife] Rose Ellen, in which she had enclosed a packet of bobby pins for Gertrude’s close-cropped hair.

Points to Rose Ellen Stein for presenting the poet with a poem!

Mellow also mentions that Stein was in the habit of giving Toklas a cookbook every Christmas, even during the worst of World War II:

One Christmas, when no communication with Paris was possible, “the 1,479 pages of Montagne’s and Salle’s The Great Book of the Kitchen,” Alice recalled, “passed across the line with more intelligence than is usually credited to inanimate objects. Though there was not one ingredient obtainable it was abundantly satisfying to pore over its pages, imagination being as lively as it is.”

Toklas famously went on to write The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, which does indeed include the recipe you are probably thinking of in connection with her.

Theatre Unbound’s A Gertrude Stein Christmas is devised by the ensemble from Stein’s play “Turkey and Bones and Eating And We Liked It,” premiering at the 2018 Minnesota Fringe. Get your tickets now!

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