Rebecca leaves a lump of coal in Sam’s stocking this holiday season: he has to work on Christmas Eve. Actually, everyone does, but they’re not complaining, especially at a time-and-a-half rate. And it looks like a long night, too, especially when bar regular Al invites a bunch of friends over. Norm is busted as a department store Santa, and invites his “Santa School” buddies over for a few cold ones, and I don’t mean snowballs. Cliff is one can shy of winning a Disney World trip in a local food drive. And ol’ Sammy is guilted into searching high and low for a present to buy his boss, particularly after everyone already got her something. It looks like his quest ends in utter, soggy futility, until he meets an angel – actually a hot blonde stewardess named Tracy – who offers to give him a present that he can use. But back at the bar, that present accidentally becomes a pair of diamond earrings (one that Tracy meant to give her mother), and Sam goes through with it under the promise that Rebecca will treat him to a quiet, intimate dinner. That dinner is actually a whole-bar gala, but the night’s not a total wash: Tracy and Woody wind up together, It’s a Wonderful Life warms everyone’s hearts, and cynical Frasier actually, for one brief moment, believes in Santa!
Cheers has never actually had many Christmas episodes, but this one could even melt old Scrooge’s heart. Featuring the entire Cheers cast, including Al and Lilith, it’s a perfect ensemble effort, although Frasier seems to have the best lines in his curmudgeonly rants about materialism, hypocrisy, and even the treacle in holiday movies. Poor Rebecca strikes out again with her boss, Mr. Drake, as does Sam with his boss, Rebecca herself. Some things never change, even during the Yuletide.
Cold open: the Cheers gang cynically deconstructs the finale of It’s a Wonderful Life, until they cave in and start crying like blubbering idiots.
Norm’s opener (as Santa Claus): Sam: “Santa, what can I get you?” Norm: “Finally! Someone wants to get me something!”