The Simpsons Christmas Special

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for The Simpsons Christmas Special. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

Homer believes the only way to make his family happy on Christmas is to provide packages under the tree.  When he brings home “Santa’s Little Helper,” he discovers it’s the love his family shares that is important.

Main Character Growth

Homer needs to stop fumbling with the truth and bumbling with his efforts to cover up his actions.

Main Character Approach

Homer looks for a physical solution to his problems.  It is really his only option, as his mental capabilities are limited, and he is emotionally immature.

Main Character Mental Sex

Homer uses the male problem solving techniques of cause and effect.  As an example, he thinks by taking a part-time job, he will earn enough money to buy gifts.  He is quite dismayed later to discover the big picture—gross pay minus many deductions equals minimal net pay.

Story Driver

Bart gets a tattoo, and it can only be removed if the procedure is paid for up front.  Marge has no choice but to use the Christmas savings to pay for it.  Mr. Burns denies his employees their annual Christmas bonus, compelling Homer to decide if he should come clean with his family, or find another way to raise the money.

Story Limit

Homer only has until Christmas Eve to make it the best Christmas ever.

Story Outcome

Christmas is saved as the Simpson family receives the only gift it truly needs, the love for each other and “Santa’s Little Helper,” their new puppy:
Lisa: So love at first sight is possible.

Story Judgment

Homer resolves his personal angst when he realizes family is all that matters, and his family cares more about him than gifts under the tree.

Overall Story Throughline

""Homer Saves Christmas""

Overall Story Throughline

The predicament the Simpsons find themselves in is a Christmas without gifts.  Homer’s Christmas bonus is denied, and the family Christmas savings are used to remove Bart’s tattoo.  Marge’s sisters put pressure on the situation, contemptuous of Homer and highly skeptical that he can bring his family Christmas joy:
Patty: It’s Christmas?  You wouldn’t know it around here.
Homer: And why is that?
Selma: Well, for one thing, there’s no tree.

Overall Story Concern

Everyone is concerned with the Christmas season: The school children’s Christmas pageant; Christmas shopping; Christmas trees; Santa; and, most of all, Christmas presents.  As Marge remarks in the Simpsons’ Christmas card, “The magic of the season has touched us all.”

Overall Story Issue

The thematic issue of “attraction” is illustrated with instances of Christmas trimmings.  Christmas lights in particular hold a fascination for the children.  Homer attempts to illuminate the house, “Okay kids, prepared to be dazzled,” but it doesn’t quite work—as opposed to next door neighbor Flanders whose light show entrances the Simpson children, leaving Homer to bitterly comment, “It’s too bright.”

Overall Story Counterpoint

Repulsion is embodied in Marge’s two sister’s, Selma and Patty, who the family only see on special occasions, like Christmas.  There is an obvious dislike between Homer and the sister-in-laws, and the Simpson children suffer their aunts’ embraces.

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Attraction vs.Repulsion

Christmas with all of its attractions and repellents is explored in the school pageant: Lisa’s classmate plays the part of a Japanese priest who acts like Santa but has eyes in the back of his head “So children better behave when I’m nearby.”

Overall Story Problem

The objective characters initiating action to achieve their goals is the source of the story’s problems.  For example, Bart having his arm tattooed, and his mother’s insistence that it be removed is how the Christmas savings are spent; Mr. Burns executes the directive to maintain a certain work level but “for you semi-skilled workers, there will be no Christmas bonuses.”

Overall Story Solution

Positive responses are what solves the objective story problem.  For example, Marge’s pragmatic response to Homer’s outburst when he learns of the savings spent on the removal of Bart’s tattoo is “Don’t worry, Homer.  We’ll just have to stretch your Christmas bonus even further this year.”  The family’s reaction to “Santa’s Little Helper” leaves no doubt that the dilemma of Christmas without gifts is resolved:
Homer: . . . I have a confession to make . . . I didn’t get my Christmas bonus.  I tried not to let it ruin Christmas for everybody, but no matter what I did . . .
Bart:  Hey everybody, look what we got!
Santa’s Little Helper:  Arf arf!
Lisa: A dog!  All right Dad!
Marge: God bless him.
Lisa: So love at first sight is possible.
Bart: And if he runs away he’ll be easy to catch.
Marge:  Oh, this is the best of them all, Homer.
Homer:  It is?
Marge: Yes, something to share our love—and frighten prowlers.
Lisa: What’s his name?
Homer: (Big smile) Number #8, D’oh, I mean. . .Santa’s Little Helper.

Overall Story Symptom

The objective characters deal with the effects of problems caused by “proaction” by focusing on “acceptance.”  Homer reluctantly submits to attending the children’s Christmas pageant.  As he and Marge make their way (late) toward their seats in the school auditorium, Homer comments to a pal: “Hey Norman, so you got dragged out here too”; Homer tolerates his sister-in-laws; Marge accepts that she must pay for Bart’s tattoo removal in cash, without asking for an alternative payment plan; and so forth.

Overall Story Response

The objective characters attempt to deal with the difficulties they focus on by taking the direction of “nonacceptance.”  Selma and Patty do not accept their brother-in-law “Of all the men you could have married, I don’t know why you picked one who’s always so rude”; Lisa does not accept her aunt casting aspersions on her father:
Patty:  . . . I’m just trashing your father.
Lisa: Well, I wish you wouldn’t, because, aside from the fact that he has the same frailties as all human beings, he’s the only father I have, therefore he is my model of manhood and my estimation of him will govern the prospects of my adult relationships.  So I hope you bear in mind that any knock at him is a knock at me, and I’m far too young to defend myself against such onslaughts.

Overall Story Catalyst

An example of “work” moving the objective story forward is the doctor performing the laser removal of Bart’s tattoo—and demanding a cash payment, cash that Marge counted on to buy Christmas gifts; Homer taking a part-time job to earn money for Christmas gifts; and so forth.

Overall Story Inhibitor

An example of how “doubt” impedes the objective story progress is illustrated in a conversation between Marge and her cynical sister, Patty, as they make the arrangements for Christmas Eve:
Marge: Homer and I are looking forward to your visit, too.
Patty: Somehow I doubt that Homer is excited.  Of all the men you could have married, I don’t know why you picked one who’s always so rude.

Overall Story Benchmark

The more festive the Simpsons’ household becomes as the story advances is how progress is measured toward achieving the goal.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

It’s Christmas time and the Simpson clan is especially looking forward to opening gifts.  Bart’s idea of a Christmas present for his mother (and for himself) is a tattoo.  Marge is less than pleased, particularly when all of the family Christmas savings must be used to pay for its removal.  Homer learns from his boss that he, along with the other “semi-skilled workers,” will not be receiving their usual Christmas bonus.  Once he realizes there is no money at all for gifts, he panics.  He doesn’t tell his family the truth of the situation, and wallows in despair and Duff beer.  Then, following his pal Barney’s example, Homer sets about getting himself hired as a part-time Santa to earn the cash.  Marge’s sisters are in town to celebrate the holiday with the Simpsons.  They put additional pressure on the situation, making disparaging remarks about Homer and sniffing at the lack of Christmas trimmings.  Bart inadvertently discovers what his father is up to, and agrees to help him buy gifts with his earnings.  Unfortunately, his net pay is minimal after taxes.  Homer is persuaded to bet the money at the dog races.  Barney tells him about a “sure thing” but when Homer hears of last minute replacement “Santa’s Little Helper” he’s certain it’s kismet and, against Bart’s advice, places the bet.  The mutt comes in last.  All seems lost as Homer and Bart despondently search the empty race track parking lot for a winning ticket.  The owner of “Santa’s Little Helper,” tired of him losing races, shoos him away—right into the arms of Homer.  Bart begs to keep him, Homer consents, and the family is overjoyed.

Overall Story Backstory

Every Christmas season prior to this one, Homer has received a Christmas bonus.  The family has come to rely on this and their own savings to purchase Christmas gifts.

Main Character Throughline

Homer Simpson — Father

Main Character Throughline

Homer engages in the endeavor to provide the best Christmas ever for his family.  To accomplish his goal, he steals a Christmas tree, enrolls in Santa Claus school to earn money for gifts, and so forth.

Main Character Concern

Learning is of particular concern to Homer.  As he attempts to figure out how to make money to buy Christmas gifts, he learns what is really important, the Christmas spirit of the family.

Main Character Issue

Homer puts into effect a specific plan to earn money for gifts.

Main Character Counterpoint

Homer’s analysis of problematic situations is faulty, limiting his potential to effectively strategize a plan of action.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Strategy vs.Analysis

An example of the conflict between “strategy” and “analysis” considered by Homer is found in his plan to illuminate the house with Christmas lights.  The plan does not work, and Homer is left to evaluate the situation as he sadly contemplates the difference between his Christmas lights and the brilliant display of his next-door-neighbor’s, and dejectedly hangs his head.

Main Character Problem

Homer runs into problems when he takes the initiative to solve his family’s quandary on his own.

Main Character Solution

Taking time to react to conflict before making a pre-emptive first strike, is the key characteristic necessary in resolving Homer’s drive.

Main Character Symptom

Although Homer is a do-er, he reacts passively to problems.  Instead of challenging Mr. Burns’ edict not to give out annual Christmas bonuses, he mutters to himself “Oh, thank God for the big jar.”  Another example is when Homer, full of self-loathing and despair, wallows in his misery at Moe’s tavern:
Moe: What’s the matter, Homer?  Somebody leave a lump of coal in your stocking?  You’ve been sitting here sucking on a beer all day long.
Homer: So? 
Moe: So, it’s Christmas!

Main Character Response

Instead of telling his family the truth about not receiving the Christmas bonus, Homer directs his efforts toward what he thinks will preserve the holiday for them, for example, stealing a Christmas tree:
Patty:  Why is there a birdhouse in it?

Main Character Unique Ability

For Homer to achieve the goal, he must follow preliminary steps.  One essential step is understanding the importance of family.  He displays this understanding when, acting as Santa Claus, he listens to the materialistic demands of a child:
Little boy: And then I want. . .
Homer: Ah, Son, You don’t need all that junk.  I’m sure you already got something much more important.  A decent home and a father who would do anything for you.

Main Character Critical Flaw

Homer’s feelings of inadequacy undermines his efforts:
Homer: I don’t deserve you [Marge] as much as a guy with a fat wallet and a credit card that won’t set off that horrible beeping.

Main Character Benchmark

An example of how “doing” is the standard by which Homer judges the degree of his concern of “learning,” is by engaging in physical activities that will solve his problem, e.g., taking on a part-time job.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

Dense, blundering, and concerned with instant gratification.  Devoted family man.  His birthday gifts to his wife have been a tackle box, Connie Chung calendar, and a bowling ball with his name engraved upon it.

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

Homer begins the Christmas season with childlike enthusiasm for his favorite holiday.  “I’m just a big kid, and I love Christmas so much.”  When he learns from his boss that he will not be receiving his annual Christmas bonus, and that the family Christmas cash has been spent on a tattoo removal for his son, he takes the responsibility of providing Christmas for his family.

Main Character Backstory

. . . The show itself belongs to Homer, the pear-shaped, bear-claw snarfing, Duff Beer-swilling clan elder.  Indeed, the cluelessly id-driven charter member of the Charlie Brown Hair Club for Men is the mouthpiece of the show’s edgiest jokes.  Like a hand-drawn Archie Bunker, Homer is a softy deep down, an Everyguy who never met a doughnut he didn’t like.  When he gets his hand repeatedly caught in a vending machine (D’Oh!), your heart goes out to the Sisyphus of Springfield.  Beneath all his demented appetite-driven travails and negligent parenting, Homer has the biggest heart on TV—even if it is clogged with cholesterol.  “Mmmm, cholesterol.” (Entertainment Weekly 27)

Influence Character Throughline

Bart Simpson — Son

Influence Character Throughline

Bart Simpson challenges what is considered by society as acceptable behavior.  This is depicted at the school Christmas pageant when he substitutes his own words for the lyrics of a traditional Christmas carol:
Bart:  Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.  The Batmobile broke its wheel, the Joker got away, hey!

Influence Character Concern

In the process of devising a way to justify getting a tattoo, Bart imagines what Marge would say if his tattoo was “Mother”:
Marge: Oh Bart, that’s so sweet.  It’s the best present a mother could get and it makes you look so dangerous.

Influence Character Issue

Once Bart determines he needs something, it becomes urgent that he fulfill his desires.  For example, in this episode, it is imperative that he get a tattoo.

Influence Character Counterpoint

In Bart’s urgency to get a tattoo, he takes what he believes is the most prudent and efficient course, considering his parents’ potential anger—he asks to have the tattoo “Mother” inscribed on his arm.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Need vs.Expediency

Bart places more importance on what he deems is a necessity, however, he takes what he feels is the most convenient course to fulfill that desire.

Influence Character Problem

Bart is driven by what he believes are the indisputable truisms found on television:
“If TV has taught me anything, it’s that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas.  It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it’s gonna happen to us!”

Influence Character Solution

Bart thinks that taking a chance at the dog races can solve the Simpson’s Christmas dilemma.

Influence Character Symptom

Bart pretends to acquiesce to Homers rules, lulling his father into a false sense of security.

Influence Character Response

Bart has no intention of compromising his desires and directs his efforts to fulfilling them—which often causes problems for Homer.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Bart is able to force Homer to address his personal problem of “proaction” by challenging Homer’s permissiveness.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

The very nature of “preconditions” is what undermines Bart’s efforts, for example, his young age and the limitations put on him by his parents.

Influence Character Benchmark

Bart acts the fool and wayward boy when he comes up with the idea to change the words to “Jingle Bells” during the Christmas pageant, angering Homer, however, the more he acts as his father’s ally, the more he puts his ideas to good use.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

Bart is an extremely bright underachiever.  One of his rules to live by is “Commit the following sentences to memory; you’ll be surprised at how often they will come in handy: I didn’t do it.  Nobody saw me do it!  They can’t prove anything!” (Zehme 40-42)

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Bart is concerned with his own desires, and sets out to fulfill them, without any regard to his parents’ admonitions and careless of how his actions may impact the family.  His attempt to get a tattoo is thwarted by Marge, but there is still a partial tattoo that must be removed, requiring all of the Simpsons’ Christmas savings for payment.  Unrepentant, Bart and his friends hit the mall, intent on wreaking havoc.  Bart follows through on a dare to yank the beard off of the “quote unquote Santa,” only to realize it’s his father, who explains he is trying to earn money to buy lavish gifts for the family.  Bart agrees to help make it the best Christmas ever.  Although Bart does not make the same kind of leap of faith as his father, he does experience some growth in his throughline.

Influence Character Backstory

“According to those who know [Bart] best he is a sociopath who one day will be arraigned.  Bart is trapped in a world where everyone is struggling to be normal.  Bart’s response to being normal is ‘no way man’”  (Zehme 40-42).

Relationship Story Throughline

""Santa's Little Helper""

Relationship Story Throughline

Homer and Bart each have a different fixed mindset on the meaning of Christmas.  Homer is childlike in his enthusiasm for the holiday, and believes it is the presents that make it special.  Bart is cynical, yet appreciates the meaning of Christmas beyond its commercial trappings.

Relationship Story Concern

It’s what is not taken into consideration that is of concern between Homer and Bart.  For example, Bart doesn’t consider Homer much of a man; Homer doesn’t consider Bart’s opinions—he doesn’t take Bart’s advice at the racetrack and therefore loses the race; and so forth.

Relationship Story Issue

Bart speaks with a jaded tone when describing who puts the presents under the tree: “Oh please, there’s just one fat guy who brings us presents each year and his name ain’t Santa.”

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Bart reassesses his earlier opinion of Homer once he discovers the lengths his father will go to make the family happy.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Appraisal vs.Reappraisal

There is more weight given to reconsidering first impressions in the subjective story throughline.

Relationship Story Problem

The (mistaken) conclusions Homer and Bart draw about the other is the source of problems between the two.

Relationship Story Solution

Bart, going along with Homer’s inductive (faulty) reasoning at the racetrack, is what solves the problems between the two.  Homer assumes that because the last minute replacement at the dog track is named “Santa’s Little Helper,” and it is Christmas time, he’s a sure thing:
Announcer: Once again, Sir Galahad has been replaced by “Santa’s Little Helper.”
Homer:  Bart, did your hear that?  What a name!  “Santa’s Little Helper!”  It’s a sign, it’s an omen!
Bart:  It’s a coincidence, Dad.
Homer (to ticket taker)  What are the odds on “Santa’s Little Helper?”
Ticket taker:  Ninety nine to one.
Homer:  Whoa!  Ninety nine times thirteen equals Merry Christmas!
Bart:  I’ve got a bad feeling about this . . . Oh, go for it Dad!
Homer:  Everything on “Santa’s Little Helper.”

Relationship Story Symptom

Tolerating each other, without moving beyond that stage to develop a meaningful relationship, is where attention is focused in the subjective story.

Relationship Story Response

In response to the effects of the problem between them, neither Homer nor Bart are willing to accept the other for who they are, flaws and all.

Relationship Story Catalyst

An example of how “investigation” acts as the catalyst to move the subjective story forward is when Bart, acting on a dare, yanks off the “so-called Santa’s” beard and discovers that it is Homer:
Homer: And what’s your name. . .
Bart: I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?
Homer: I’m jolly old Saint Nick.
Bart: Oh, yeah?  We’ll just see about that . . . (yanks off beard) . . . Don’t kill me Dad, I didn’t know it was you.
Homer: . . . It’s a secret.  I didn’t get my bonus this year, but to keep the family from missing out on Christmas, I’d do anything.”
Bart:  I’ll say Dad.  You must really love us to sink so low.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

Examples of “attempt” impeding the progress of Homer and Bart’s relationship is Homer’s failed attempt at putting up Christmas lights, which Bart scorns, and Bart’s singing his own rude version of Jingle Bells, infuriating Homer.

Relationship Story Benchmark

The way Homer and Bart instinctively respond to each other is negative.  As time goes on, however, they draw closer together and their impulses become more affectionate.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Homer and Bart start off with a prickly relationship.  Homer is angry that Bart has disrupted the Christmas pageant, and Bart is irritated with his father’s ineptness.  The lack of respect is evident on both sides, and this doesn’t begin to change until Bart discovers that Homer has taken a part-time job to buy the family Christmas gifts.  Once Bart decides to help Homer, Homer begins to slowly change from thinking materialistic items are what will make his family happy, to realizing it is he and the love they all share is what really counts.

Relationship Story Backstory

Homer and Bart’s antagonistic relationship is the result of Bart’s constant trouble making and Homer’s low tolerance for children:
Employer: Do you like children?
Homer:  What do you mean?  All the time?  Even when they’re nuts?

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Christmas is in the here and now in this episode of The Simpsons, and everyone is concerned that it is the best one ever.

Overall Story Consequence

If the Simpsons are not able to celebrate this Christmas, the situation will turn black as the family will be more conscious of Homer’s failings.

Overall Story Cost

An example of costs incurred on the way to the goal are the negative ideas Patty and Selma try to put into Marge and the kid’s heads about Homer.

Overall Story Dividend

Examples of dividends accrued on the way to the goal are: Marge and the kids learn they can depend on Homer to do the best he can for them; Homer learns his family is more concerned for him than material possessions; Homer and Barney learn the ins and outs of playing Santa Claus; Bart learns the process of tattoo removal:
Doctor: Yes, Mrs. Simpson, we can remove your son’s tattoo.  It’s a simple routine involving lasers.
Bart: Cool!

Overall Story Requirements

To achieve the best Christmas ever, Homer thinks he must advance his efforts to make money for gifts.

Overall Story Prerequisites

As an example of how “preconscious” describes what is needed to meet the story requirements, Homer must stifle his impulse to unthinkingly blurt out to Marge that they have no money for Christmas gifts.

Overall Story Preconditions

Homer takes a job as Santa Claus to earn money for Christmas gifts.

Overall Story Forewarnings

An example of how “doing” describes the imminent approach of the story’s consequences is illustrated in the scene where Homer, Bart, and Barney enter the dog track and Homer, feeling like an irresponsible father sighs: “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”  The shot that immediately follows is a father and son (Bart’s age) who are obviously no strangers to the track:
Anxious boy: Can we open our presents now Dad?
Loser Dad: You know the tradition son, not ‘til the eighth race.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Marge pens what has happened in the past year for the Simpsons’ annual Christmas letter “The magic of the season has touched us all”; Lisa requests a pony for Christmas, as she has for the past three years; and so forth.

Overall Story Journey 1 from Past to Future

In Santa Claus class, future situations are anticipated from past experiences.  For example, the students are instructed to respond to the charge “You’re not really Santa . . .” with “If such an emergency arises, you just tell them Santa is very busy at this time of this year and you are one of his helpers.”

Overall Story Signpost 2

Homer’s new employer congratulates his new hire: “Welcome aboard, Simpson. Pending your successful completion of our training program, that is.”

Overall Story Journey 2 from Future to Progress

The prospect of a merry Christmas filled with gifts looks brighter as Homer takes on a part time job as Santa Claus.

Overall Story Signpost 3

An indication of how things are going in the Simpson household is illustrated when Homer (as Santa Claus) confides in a small child:
Little Girl: I hope you feel better, Santa.
Homer: Oh, I will when Mrs. Claus’ sisters get out of town.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Progress to Present

The progress Homer has made in earning money for Christmas gifts is for naught once he reviews his paycheck:
Secretary: Simpson, Homer—here you go.
Homer:  . . . $13 bucks! 
Secretary: . . . That’s right $120 dollars gross, less social security, less unemployment insurance, less Santa training, less costume purchase, less beard rental, less Christmas club.  See you next year.
Homer: $13 bucks—you can’t get anything for $13 bucks!  At this moment, Christmas is ruined—until “Santa’s Little Helper” presents himself as a viable alternative to store bought gifts.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Homer brings home “Santa’s Little Helper” and a merry Christmas is celebrated in the Simpson household.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Homer speeds to Bart and Lisa’s Christmas recital; Homer tries unsuccessfully to string up Christmas lights; He takes readings at the nuclear power plant; Takes on a part-time job; and so forth.

Main Character Journey 1 from Doing to Obtaining

Once Homer realizes there is no money for Christmas gifts, his concern changes from engaging in his daily work activities and Christmas preparations, to buying the most inexpensive gifts possible, or getting a second job to pay for fancy presents.

Main Character Signpost 2

To avoid telling Marge the truth about his nonexistent Christmas bonus, he tells her he wants to do the Christmas shopping this year; Homer buys his family gifts: “Marge, Marge, let’s see . . . ooh, pantyhose, practical and alluring.”

Main Character Journey 2 from Obtaining to Learning

To obtain the position of a part-time Santa, Homer must learn a few Santa facts:
Homer: Um, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Nixon, Comet, Cupid, Donna Dixon?

Main Character Signpost 3

Homer learns the difference between gross and net pay.

Main Character Journey 3 from Learning to Understanding

Homer’s concern shifts from learning new ways to earn money for Christmas gifts, to finally understanding all his family wants for Christmas is his love.

Main Character Signpost 4

Homer appreciates the qualities of “Santa’s Little Helper” stating ruefully: “But he’s a loser.  He’s pathetic.  He’s. . . a Simpson.”

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Bart devises what he thinks is an acceptable way to get a tattoo and make Marge happy at the same time—by having “Mother” tattooed on his arm.

influence Character Journey 1 from Conceiving to Becoming

Bart’s impact changes from a little brat full of ideas that disrupt and destroy, to embodying all the reasons why parents want to do the very best for their children.

Influence Character Signpost 2

As Homer observes Flanders close relationship with his son, it is implied that Bart (and the other children) become more than an obligation to be palmed off with a few cheap gifts, they deserve the very best Homer can give them.  Alas, this early in the story, Homer feels the impact of Bart but is in too much despair to see the answer to his problem.

Influence Character Journey 2 from Becoming to Conceptualizing

Bart changes from Dennis the Menace incarnate to a son ready to help his father implement a plan to save Christmas.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Bart comes up with a practical implementation of how to torture the shopping mall Santa:
Bart: Hey Milhouse, I dare you to sit on his lap.
Milhouse: Oh yeah, well I dare you to yank his beard off!
Bart: Ah, touche!

Influence Character Journey 3 from Conceptualizing to Being

Bart changes from visualizing how to implement his many bright ideas (bound to land him in trouble), to being a good son for the Christmas holiday.

Influence Character Signpost 4

To fulfill his role of the good son, Bart hides his skepticism when Homer wants to take a long shot, betting on “Santa’s Little Helper”:
Bart: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Homer: Don’t you believe in me son? 
Bart: Uh . . .
Homer: Come on, boy.  Sometimes your faith is all that keeps me going.
Bart: (Long pause, then capitulation) Oh, go for it dad.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

Homer’s unthinking response to what his son wants for Christmas is inappropriate.  As Marge reads off of Bart’s Christmas list that he wants a tattoo, Homer exclaims:
Homer: A what!
Bart: Yeah, they’re cool and they last for the rest of your life!
Homer: If you want one you’ll have to pay for it out of your own allowance!
Bart: All right!

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Preconscious to SubconsciousHomer and Bart's relationship is usually filled with conflict--they snipe at each other saying the first (negative) comment that comes to mind. When faced with a mutual enemy, however, they band together. As an example, when Homer walks in the door, Bart (and Lisa) run to him for protection from their aunts: Bart: Daddy . . . You're finally home. . . Homer: What? . . . Oh, yeah. Hello Patty, Hello Selma . . .
Relationship Story Signpost 2

Homer and Bart are united in their mutual desire to avoid Patty and Selma.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Subconscious to Conscious

An example of how the subjective story develops from concerns with the “subconscious” to the “conscious” is illustrated when Bart discovers his father’s new employment:
Bart: Don’t kill me Dad.  I didn’t know it was you.
Homer: Nobody knows. It’s a secret. I didn’t get my bonus this year, but to keep the family from missing out on Christmas, I’d do anything,
Bart: I’ll say, Dad.  You must really love us to sink so low.
Homer: Now let’s not get mushy, son.  I still have a job to do.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Conscious of his parental role, Homer is reluctant to allow Bart accompany him to the race track.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Conscious to Memory

A bit more considerate of each other, Homer and Bart go home to celebrate a memorable Christmas.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

Once Bart shares his recollections of what has happened on past Christmas television specials, he is able to convince Homer to bet his Christmas paycheck at the dog races, and allow him to accompany his dad and Barney:
Homer: I may be a total washout as a father, but I’m not gonna take my kid to a sleazy dog track on Christmas Eve.
Bart: Ah, come on dad.  This could be the miracle that saves the Simpsons’ Christmas.  If TV has taught me anything, it’s that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas.  It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it’s gonna happen to us!
Homer:  Well, okay.  Let’s go.  Who’s Tiny Tim?

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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