This was my email to Jessica, it explains why the cancellations:
With a HEAVY HEART I'm sorry to tell you that I have to cancel your reservation. We were initially going to Venezuela, my hometown on Dec 1st (me and my two younger kids) and then my older kids and husband were to join me on the 18th, but the current situation there is very unstable . To be honest, we knew that when we bought the air tickets back in July, but what wasn't known to anyone was that on December 6th they are holding elections and this could be the event that could start any kind of riots, civil unrest, government imposed curfews, to say the least. Or nothing could happen, but is a risk we can't take with four small children. All my family is very upset, as we are, but we all agree that the risk is not worthy, we are postponing for the summer. Is costing us money to change tickets, this and just to spend holiday without family is a tradition we are braking this year.
We looked to rent places in Tahoe and Napa but they are ridiculously expensive for the week of Christmas. Apologies for all the inconveniences, I was really looking forward to hosting your family here.