It's Christmastime, and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration. But things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen, and their two kids. Clark's continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going, knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.
The story revolves around 11-year-old Jessica, whose mother died when she was three years old. Her father Jim is a workaholic with little time for his daughter. Just before the Christmas holiday season, Jessica wins a free wish from a wishing well. Her wish for a mother for Christmas is granted by Philomena and Amy, a department store mannequin, is brought to life to be a mom for Jessica.
Steven Keats plays a Russian emigre who prides himself on the way he's molded himself into a real Yankee in the USA, though the world he lives in, New York's Lower East Side in the late 19th century, is almost exclusively populated by other Jewish immigrants. When his wife (Carol Kane) finally arrives in the New World, however, she has a lot of assimilating to do. This causes the tension which drives the movie along, though it maintains a fairly light atmosphere most of the time.