Faith Hill's Hope & Joy
Taking a Break
This Thanksgiving, as places are set at their suburban Nashville table for the kith and kin of Faith Hill and husband Tim McGraw, Hill will be consulting her mother's time-tested recipes for gravy and corn bread in order to prepare "the one meal I do really, really well." Three daughters with ever-changing tastes, ages 11, 10, and 6, have each put in requests. "Gracie's fave is butter beans, Audrey's is green beans, Maggie's is peas. So I have to make all of those."
Or else. Last year the hit-maker, who had three consecutive albums debut at number one on both Billboard 200 and Billboard Country, ran out of time and blew off the pecan pie. "Maggie was devastated," Hill reports.
So here she is, on a morning in high August, already thinking about Thanksgiving menus, even though the apples for holiday pies still hang, heavy and ripe, on the trees lining the drive of the family's farm 45 minutes outside Nashville. Dressed in bright green running shorts, a T-shirt, and comfy Asics trainers -- "my usual casual," she says -- Hill looks far younger than her 41 years as she sits on her screened porch and muses about the domestic gridlock familiar to every working mom. In her case the juggling includes two high-profile careers, three sets of teacher conferences and sports schedules, family pets including dogs and horses, an imminent move to a new home being built closer to town, her just-released holiday album, Joy to the World, and a televised performance of the album's music on PBS's Soundstage, to air Thanksgiving weekend.
All morning long Hill has been making detailed entries in a black ruled notebook with columns headed "Tim," "Faith," and "The Girls." The book is her hedge against chaos. After a recent "totally relaxing" family vacation in Europe, including a week and a half on a chartered boat exploring remote fishing villages in Italy -- the couple's first summer off after their 2006 and 2007 Soul2Soul summer tours -- Hill is determined to get organized. "I've felt myself drowning in my day-to-day activities," she says. "I'm constantly chasing the ball, trying to catch up. I don't want to live like that anymore. It's too exhausting."
One step toward sanity? Scaling back somewhat on her career, including not touring during the school year. "My schedule now is completely based around the girls' schedules -- down to the parent meetings, field trips, sports schedules. The idea of not being able to be there for the girls if Tim and I both had to be away at the same time..." She thumps the black book with her palm. "I couldn't handle it."