I am giving up, and throwing in the towel. I will Never Again try to make it out to visit the in-laws for Christmas. 5 years ago, FIL's job moved him cross country. Over the next couple of years, a lot of the family has migrated out as well. YBIL (he was a teen, so had to go with his parents), Middle SIL, OSIL+family, PIL and GMIL all live out there now. Every year PIL, YBIL and SIL+family have made the trip back home around Christmas, usually leaving a day or two after Christmas, and staying about a week and a half.
2 years ago, things were tight. SIL+family couldn't afford to come out, and PIL were wondering if they would make it as well. DH and I pinched pennies, and saved up. We bought the house that year, and closed the last week of October, but we still had the money set aside for our trip. Mid December, MIL starts expressing concern that we won't be able to afford the trip, and that she knows things must be tight since we just bought the house, and we were expecting DD in Feb. it's a long drive, etc. I persisted and told her we had been budgeting all year for the trip, I know what the drive is like, and we were excited to come. It finally came out that SIL+family were driving out after all, and they had asked MIL to come as well to help with their 2 kids, and since MIL was coming anyway, she talked FIL into coming, and YBIL as well. But, they couldn't come out if DH, DS and I were still planning on coming out to visit them. That bugged the crap out of me. We had planned and saved, but at the last minute, SIL changed the gameplan for everyone.
This year SIL is having a baby. On Friday, actually. She is NOT traveling with her 4 kids, one of which will be a month and a half old. DH and I thought it was a good opportunity to travel and visit his family. We've been planning and saving for months. We made it out in August for a family wedding, and MIL, SIL+family came out in Sept for a random visit. DS was devastated when Grammy and cousins left, so we told him that we were going to visit them for Christmas. He has known and been excited about it for 2 months now. He talks about what he will get his cousins for Christmas, and we will get to see snow because it snows at Grammy's house, etc. We let the extended family know that we will be out of town, so we're not participating in the cousin gift exchange, arranged a pet/house sitter for the week, I bought the kids cold weather clothes, and ordered gifts for my nieces/nephews. (I don't usually get them anything bc I HATE shipping. They don't get my kids anything either bc SIL is the same way). So, last week I'm on the phone with MIL telling her about how excited the kids are, and how DS keeps talking about seeing his cousins and Grammy and snow when MIL starts trying to talk me out of coming. It's expensive, and we just made the trip in August, and we're not used to driving in bad weather, and we might have to drive through a storm, etc. It's hard to make such a long drive with the kids, we don't have heavy duty cold weather clothes, etc. Mentally I'm rolling my eyes. I am an adult, capable of budgeting, procuring adequate clothing for my children and safely driving long distances. I felt really disrespected by the whole conversation, like I would never have thought of all these potential problems on my own, much less solved them myself.
At this point, I've wasted a lot of money getting super duper extreme cold weather clothes for 5 people, gifts for people I don't usually shop for, and I have to now pay to ship them. And we're not going out. I have a suspicion that SIL+family might be coming out here after all. BIL was offered a temporary, 10 week position in HomeState, where DH and I live, starting at the beginning of Jan. If SIL+Family come out, MIL will as well. If MIL comes, obviously FIL will too. But they won't make their plans concrete until last minute, so who the heck knows. I wash my hands of the whole thing, and I refuse to plan another holiday trip out there. Also, if they do end up coming out here, I will NOT cancel or change the new plans I'm making for our family.