There is a crowd department store with the store manager telling the passing shoppers, who are waiting for Santa Claus, that Santa just stepped out for a minute.
The Santa that is expected at the department store is seen in a bar, after just finishing his sixth drink. The bartender looks at the clock and tells the Santa that it is 6:30. The Santa asks why should he need to know and the bartender say that the Santa had asked for him to say when it was six-thirty. The bartender tells the drunken Santa that he owes for the six drinks and the sandwich. The dressed up Santa pays him the money and right then some kids knock on the windows in the door to the bar. The Santa waves to the kids and they run off. He asks the bartender a question, but it is too slurred to comprehend so the bartender asks him to repeat himself. The Santa asks again "Why isn't there a real Santa Claus?" The bartender just says that he wouldn't know. The bartender puts the change for the Santa on the counter. The Santa takes it and says he no longer wants the sandwich. The phone rings and the bartender answers it. Then the Santa tries to steal a bottle of alcohol but the bartender catches him and tells him to leave. Drunkenly, the Santa exits the building.
It is snowing outside and the Santa walks through the snow. The children from earlier see the Santa and have big smiles on their faces. As the Santa sits on the curb the two children run over to him and ask for toys and jobs for their parents. The Santa wraps his arms around the kids and begins to cry. This gentle-hearted Santa is named Henry Corwin.
An hour later, Henry finally returns to the department store, but instead of going back to work he plays with the train set, that's on display. This train set has a lot of functions compared to an ordinary train set. Henry accidentally crashes one of the trains and he stops playing with it. The store manager sees Henry and exclaims that Corwin is an hour late to work. The store manager, Mr. Dundee, is lecturing Henry about his appearance, since Henry has dirt all in and on his beard and face. Henry reaches his seat, but trips over one of the steps. The first boy to see Santa, Percival Smithers, whines about how he doesn't want to see Santa, but his mother forces him to. Percival tells Henry what he wants and Henry says that he has something for him. Unfortunately Henry falls and Percival yells, for all to hear, that Henry is drunk. Mrs. Smithers is furious about this and tells the manager that she thinks the store is just like Henry and she'll never come there again. Mr. Dundee then walks over to Henry to say that Henry is fired. Mr. Corwin just expresses his apologizes and explains that he can't control his drinking. Mr. Dundee interrupts to insist that Henry should leave. But Henry continues his speech. He says that he was never rude to Mrs. Smithers while she pushed her way through the crowds of people. He explains that it is Christmas time, a time of happiness and joy not anger and rudeness. Mr. Dundee interrupts to say why Henry doesn't go by those standards. Henry replies that he is increase in age and lives in an awful neighborhood. Mr. Dundee interrupts again to tell Henry to be quiet, but Mr. Corwin continues, as the shoppers and their children stand-by and watch. Henry says why he loves to be Santa. Because he can make the poverty stricken children of his neighborhood that Santa is always coming, but he wishes he could really give them the presents they ask for. He wants to see the meek, he wants to help the meek, but he can't. That is why he says he drinks; that is why he weeps.
He is back out is the snowy outside. He walks in front of the bar and pulls out the change he had gotten earlier. Henry looks into the bar, through the window. The bartender sees him and tells Henry to leave and that he isn't welcome. Henry starts to walk away when he hears the ringing of bells. This surprises Henry and he looks around to see nothing is there. He continues to walk and the bells ring again. Again there is nothing. He reaches an alleyway, where he knocks over a bag of cans. He ignores the bag and continues down the alleyway when the bells ring for the third time. When he turns around the bag of cans is now a bag full of presents. Mr. Corwin grabs the bag and runs into the middle of the street yelling for the children to come outside.
A lady is playing a Christmas jingle, on the piano, for a crowd of church-goers. Suddenly an elderly man walks in and begins to whisper something to all the people at the church. The woman asks why he has interrupted this church congregation. The man says that Santa Claus has come to town and is handing out gifts on the street. Suddenly, Henry walks into the church with his bag of goodies. The people there begin to ask for something they want for Christmas and Henry gives them exactly what they want. The lady asks Henry where he got the bag, but Henry replies that he doesn't know himself. But he does say that it is Santa Claus's bag that fulfills people's wishes. The lady rushes outside only to return with a police officer. The officer asks Henry if he is drunk. Henry replies by saying "Yes I'm drunk, drunk with the Yuletide spirit." Then the officer asks where the receipt for all the stuff is, but Henry doesn't have one, so the officer takes Henry with him thinking that they were stolen.
Henry and the officer are now walking outside with Henry telling the officer of how he came across the bag. They arrive at the police station and Henry continues to tell his story, even as they walk in.
Mr. Dundee walks into the police station and starts to say that he knew Henry would steal from his store and that Henry should get ten years of jail time. Henry tries to defend himself, but they don't seem convinced. Mr. Dundee reaches into the bag only to pull out an empty can. The police officer just looks at it, completely perplexed. The officer tells Henry that he can leave while Mr. Dundee gets mad at the officer for dragging him all the way down there for a false alarm. As Mr. Dundee is leaving he talks about how he wishes he could go home and drink a rare type of brandy. Henry picks up the bag, which then becomes full of toys and gifts. So Henry reaches in to grab what Mr. Dundee wanted. Henry hands him the wine and leaves. The police officer and Mr. Dundee both look shocked and read the card attached to the bottle. It reads: "To: Mr. Dundee, From: Santa Claus."
Henry is back outside, handing out the presents to the children of the neighborhood. Finally Henry gives out the last thing in the bag, to the last person who wanted a gift. He looks in to see that he gets nothing. He sits down on the steps of a building right when an old man walks out of the building. The old man says: "Nothing for you, this year?" Henry says that he doesn't care if he gets a gift or not and that this was the nicest Christmas he has ever had. The old man just rambles on about Henry not getting anything, but Henry said the only gift he wants is the gift to be the biggest gift-giver ever and to do it every year. The old man sighs and leaves. Henry stands up and leaves, without the bag. He walks down the same alleyway has before to see reindeer attached to a sleigh. Suddenly an elf appears from behind some trash cans and she calls Henry Santa Claus. The elf remarks that "they" have a lot of hard work a head of them. She pats the seat in the sleigh for Henry to sit there. He sits and tells the reindeer to go.
Mr. Dundee and the police officer are seen walking out of the police station. Mr. Dundee has finished most of the brandy in the bottle that Henry had given him. The ringing bells can be heard and they look up to see Henry and the elf in the sleigh, being pulled by reindeer. Mr. Dundee remarks that he and the police officer should go to his house to drink coffee with brandy in it and thank God for miracles.
Henry Corwin, a simple man who loves to give, is no longer Henry Corwin, but Kris Kringle.