After the boys destroy the Christmas tree ornaments (And because the boys wreck the house every Christmas), Lois issues an ultimatum: either the boys behave or Christmas is cancelled! It works and Lois is proud that they rose to the challenge, but the boys realize that she could keep using this threat for every holiday--how can they stop her?
Meanwhile, Francis spends a torturous Christmas with Grandma Ida in Whitehorse and eventually finds a closet full of gifts she bought for, then withheld from (Because of small threats, Ex: Not calling), the family over the years.
It's another Wilkerson Christmas and the boys helps Hal with the positioning of the tree. During that time, Lois is on the phone telling Francis he has to visit Grandma Ida for Christmas since it's her first Christmas alone since Grandpa Victor died and he lives the closest to her. He refuses to visit her in Whitehorse because she hates him and demanded that she pays for the bus ticket to let him come back home in California for Christmas. Lois doesn't let up and orders Francis to go to Whitehorse, buy Ida a present and have a proper Christmas with her. This is interrupted when she catches Malcolm and Reese misbehaving by trapping Dewey's head in a Christmas stocking. Apparently Lois is angry, because every Christmas the boys misbehave and do something to wreck the house (and the holiday), stemming back into childhood. 3 Wilkerson family flashbacks are shown proving Lois' statement: the first one shows Hal entering the house dressed as Santa Claus, but is bombarded with silly spray by young Malcolm, Reese, with Francis tripping him with string then run away with Francis returning to kick Hal. The 2nd shows the living room covered with snow and the boys making a mess while horsing around. The final flashback shows the Christmas tree on fire from a power outlet overload, Lois demanding who was responsible for this mishap.
In Whitehorse, Francis arrives and is forced to spend a torturous Christmas with Ida, resulting in the usual insults. He gives Ida a musical Christmas Card which she's offended by when she hears the card's song Jingle Bells, thinking it's a song the villagers sing whenever warriors ride into the village and throw the babies in the fire.
Meanwhile at the house, Reese and Malcolm are writing a "gift" for Dewey. Malcolm protests when Reese puts only his name on it when it was supposed to be to Dewey from both of them. They fight and Reese pushes him to a box of ornaments. Malcolm throws an ornament at him, which shatters against the wall on impact. Reese is at first angered by this, but quickly becomes impressed. Later on, Lois comes home and catches the boys misbehaving once again, this time by having an ornament fight in the family room. Finally fed up with their misbehavior, she takes matters in her own hands by locking the presents, tree, treats, and decorations in the garage, thereby holding Christmas hostage. The only way that Lois will reinstate Christmas is that the boys behave until Christmas morning, or else the holiday will be canceled for the family. Reese protests that's she's bluffing, but is quickly proven wrong, when moments later, she burns his Christmas stocking in the fireplace and force Malcolm and Dewey to watch him cry over it.
After coming home from work, Hal confronts Lois for holding Christmas hostage. She defends herself and tells him that the boys drove her to it because they have misbehaved and ruined the holiday for the family every single year, and everything they've tried to get them to behave up to this point has failed. Lois also tells Hal as parents they need to stand their ground and let them know who's in charge. The next day, the boys behave themselves until the last waffle is left. Trying so hard to not fight over it, Hal diffuses the situation quickly by eating the waffle himself.
In Whitehorse, Francis is trying to decorate the tree, but Ida tells him that he doing it wrong and tells him to get the angel that been in her family for years. As he tries to get the angel, he takes notice of a man similar to Francis himself (except the man has bushy eyebrows). Ida tells him that it's Victor in his youth who worked on a farm and never complained about how hard and durable it was. She mentions that he and Francis were similar in a lot of ways because they have to fight to prove themselves and their families. Ida even mentions that despite not liking Francis, she respects him because he reminds her of Victor. She later sleeps and her cigarette falls into her nightgown. Francis is disgusted and takes the cigarette out, but has to use her alcohol to clean his hand out.
At the house, the boys are congratulating themselves because they've behaved themselves. However, they soon realize that Lois could use the same tactic again for other holidays and even their birthdays. The boys decide to retaliate by breaking into the garage to take their holidays back and teach her a lesson.
Meanwhile, Lois is feeling remorse for the way she behaved. Hal tells her that the boys did a great job behaving themselves. However, Lois isn't convinced and even Francis calls home to tell her how much of a bad mother she is for leaving Ida alone for Christmas. She agrees that she's a terrible mother because she wishes she can take back the moment where she took the presents and the holidays hostage.
In the garage, the boys are happily opening presents until remorse sets in for them. Reese, Malcolm and Dewey realized that Lois got them what they wanted for Christmas and the only thing she wanted was for them to behave and have a nice holiday for a change. Realizing they ruined their own Christmas, they tried to put everything right by crudely re-wrapping their gifts.
In Whitehorse, Francis is helping clean up Ida's place when he discovers a hidden stash of Christmas presents in a closet under the stairs. Ida reveals she bought the gifts for thr family years ago, these include: a bread maker for Lois, a new camera for Hal (which Ida bought before he refused to drive her to the liquor store) and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Donatello action figure Francis wanted when he was 6 years old. And he offended her by calling her "poopy" and hanging up the phone. Realizing how insane she is, Francis calls her out and she appears to realize she needs to let go of her anger, but it is revealed to be sarcasm.
Hal and Lois are discussing about moving the tree and gifts back in the house so they and the boys can have a proper Christmas. They go inside while the boys are trying to re-wrap the presents. Instead of busting them, Lois takes the denial route and thanks Hal for waking up the boys to help them move the gifts and tree back inside the house. The family has a proper Christmas.
On Christmas Day, Francis leaves a musical Christmas card to torture Ida, possibly as revenge for the torture he had to endure with her. She swears a personal vendetta on him for continuously torturing her and manages to find one card. She manages to rip it up, proving that it is not a musical card, and that he actually played the song in her house.
- Jane Kaczmerek as Lois
- Bryan Cranston as Hal
- Christopher Kennedy Masterson as Francis
- Justin Berfield as Reese
- Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey
- Frankie Muniz as Malcolm
- Matthew Dunn as young Dewey
- This is one of the few times Lois took back her punishment.
- The episode establishes that Malcolm, Reese and Dewey weren't able to have a proper Christmas due to past misbehaviors that lead Lois to punishing them.
- This episode establishes why Ida hates Francis the most after one Christmas call ended with him calling her poopy and hanging up on her.
- Lois:[in the last flashback] Who did this? Who did this?
- Hal: Drop and roll honey.
- Lois: Who did this?
- Lois: I have had it!
- [Dumps out the contents in the paper bag and turns off the lights to the Christmas tree. She is stuffing all the presents in the bag.]
- Malcolm: Mom, what are you doing?
- Lois: I am taking everything, every decoration, every present, every tree and I'm locking it in the garage. Every single Christmas, you three burn, break or destroy and I'm putting a stop to it.
- Dewey: She's stealing Christmas.
- Malcolm: Mom, you can't do this.
- Reese: Yeah, this'll be the last year Dewey believes in Santa.
- Dewey: WHAT?!
- Lois: If you boys behave until Christmas morning, there will be a Christmas morning. Otherwise these are going back to the store and Christmas will be cancelled!
- Reese: [to Lois] You wouldn't cancel Christmas! You're bluffing.
- [Scene cut to reveal Reese crying over his burning stocking]
- [On the phone with Francis]
- Lois: Just spend a couple of days with Grandma. You can leave right after Christmas.
- Francis: I am not visiting that woman. She's evil and she hates me.
- Lois: Francis, this is family. This is Grandma's first Christmas since Grandpa died and you live the closest. How can you be selfish