Recently uprooted from New England, the Emerson family (Shelley Long, Robert Hays) have moved to the balmy desert southwest and the discouraged Molly claims "it doesn't feel like Christmas." Crestfallen at the thought that Santa is just a myth, young daughter Judy sets an elaborate trap and successfully snares Santa Claus. The parents call the police to report this strange but jolly intruder. Santa (Dick Van Patten) tries to prove his identity, but is arrested. Judy pleads with her father explaining that millions of kids will go without presents. Santa is placed in jail with Max (Stacy Keach), a ne'er-do-well biker. Back at the Emerson house, Bill is awakened by strange noises and surprised to see live reindeer on the roof. Now a believer, Bill goes to the police station and free Santa Claus. But the bumbling police mistake Max for Santa, and release Max the biker instead. Comic complications ensue, and Christmas hangs in the balance.