Unlike many holidays, which have become days of fluff and fun and department store sales, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday still has a serious undertone. I like to begin our celebration of the day by reading Sister Anne's Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki. The lovely illustrations, which remind me so much of my own school days, are by K. Wendy Popp.
This is a gentle story about the arrival of an African-American teacher in an all-white Catholic school in the early 1960s, and how the children react. Sister Anne helps the children overcome their fears and open their hearts a bit. "One thing you're going to learn," she tells them, "is that some folks have their hearts wide open, and others are tight as a fist. . . . For me, I'd rather open my door enough to let everyone in than risk slamming it shut on God's big toe."
Holly and Lily learn about Dr. King at school and are familiar with his most famous speech -- which makes today a great day to talk about dreams. And so on this date I make dream pillows for them. I let them choose the fabric from my small stash and I stick an herbal tea bag in with the fiberfill. It's more fun to select individual herbs, but much easier to use something you already have in your cabinets. This year we used Bigelow's Sweet Dreams herb tea, with its lovely mix of chamomile, hibiscus, peppermint, rose blossoms, spearmint, and orange blossoms.
And to further help everyone have sweet dreams, we have Dream Pie for dessert. Here's the recipe, copied from a package of Dream Whip.
2 envelopes Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix2-3/4 cups cold milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 packages (4-serving size each) instant pudding and pie filling, any flavor
1 cookie crust
Beat whipped topping mix, 1 cup of the milk, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer on high speed for 6 minutes or until topping thickens and forms peaks.
Add remaining 1-3/4 cups milk and pudding mix; beat on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Spoon into cookie crust.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Garnish as desired.