When his Christmas bonus is cancelled, Homer becomes a department-store Santa--and then bets his meager earnings at the track. When all seems lost, Homer and Bart save Christmas by adopting the losing greyhound, Santa's Little Helper.
Homer gives Marge a bowling ball for her birthday, and his self-serving gift backfires: she starts taking lessons from a suave French bowling instructor. When the lessons take a romantic turn, Marge faces temptation.
Bart is sent as a foreign exchange student to France, where he is enslaved by corrupt winemakers. Meanwhile, the Simpson family hosts an Albanian student who takes a surprising interest in the workings of the nuclear power plant.