I know how you feel. We get together with my husband's family all the time. My parents live out of state so its harder. We are going to see my parents the weekend before Christmas though. A few thanksgivings I talked my husband into just going out to eat with our own kids and I LOVED IT!
While my kids are a bit older now, right after the september 11th disaster, I wrote a letter to each of my husband's siblings and said we were not going to participate in a kid grab bag anymore.. and instead we were going to donate gifts to a needy family. I explained this to our kids and I didn't care if his siblings understood or followed suit or whatever. A couple of his siblings still gave gifts.And it wasn't a big deal.. I didn't care. I wasn't going to go nuts and put a bunch of stuff on credit cards anymore. And they aren't the warm and fuzzy type to want to make gifts for each other which I would love to do but I know they wouldn't.
Everyone's kids have more than enough in his family and I wanted to change the focus in our family to giving to others. We did start giving an inexpensive gift to each one of the couples. That seemed to catch on. Christmas shouldn't have to be all about the presents. Its just way too commercial.
just wanted to share.. curious what your stressors are with the extended family?