It was called “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” and strangely, one of the most successful cartoons of all time began as a Christmas special! Why would they choose to air that episode first? Despite originally supposed to be the eighth episode of the season, it was moved because of time.
The episode aired on December 17, 1989. Written by Mimi Pond and directed by David Silverman, it would go on to be nominated for two Emmy Awards in 1990 and received immensely positive reviews. The episode consists of Homer learning that he will not get a bonus, so the family has no money for presents.
To solve the problem he gets a job as a mall Santa, but discovers that he still won’t make enough money, so him and Bart bet the money at a dog-racing track.