The sight of the the Salvation Army band lugging their instruments up Gwladys Street to provide the pre-match entertainment suggested redemption was on its way to Goodison Park. It was a long time coming.
After 89 minutes of Everton's last home game before Boxing Day, David Moye's team were heading for a defeat that would have stretched their winless streak to five games and deepened the manager's sense of injustice.
Instead two goals in 88 seconds, from Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic, left Goodison and its blue Santa leaping to the strains of Slade, and lifted Everton above their visitors into the Champions League places.
For Moyes it felt like a reversal of fortune in a season dominated by draws and dogged by unfortunate refereeing decisions. For Tottenham and their coach there was the familiar sensation of an opportunity spurned and a fourth consecutive league win tossed away.
Andre Villas-Boas's side have now conceded 10 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, a failing that has cost them 14 points, and left the manager facing lingering questions about his ability to marshall his resources.
Spurs had taken the lead with only 14 minutes to play through Clint Dempsey's deflected strike from 20 yards, and almost went 2-0 up when Gylfi Sigurdsson hit the crossbar from similar range. Once again, however, they could not turn an opportunistic lead into points.
The dramatic finale had looked unlikely for most of a game in which neither side were able to convert possession into chances. Everton were the better side but sloppy in the final third. With Tottenham clearly blunted by Gareth Bale, Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor were starved of opportunities.
With clear chances rare, Moyes's frustration at the officials he believes have dogged Everton's season seemed likely to define the afternoon. The manager set the agenda in his program notes, ignoring seasonal goodwill by laying down a marker to referee Kevin Friend and his assistants.
Moyes complained that decisions had unfairly cost his side this season, citing points dropped to Reading, Newcastle and Wigan as evidence. By half-time he had a fresh case to add to his perceived miscarriages of justice as Friend turned down a good penalty claim when Pienaar's drive cannoned off William Gallas's upper arm.
Moyes did not wait to put his grievances in writing, challenging Friend from the technical area as the Goodison crowd roared their disapproval. His mood blackened with Dempsey's goal, a a speculative strike that took a helpful deflection off Sylvain Distin and looped over the diving Tim Howard.
Everton's response was late but emphatic. The equaliser came as the clock ticked into the 90th minute and was made by Seamus Coleman, who carried a threat on Everton's right flank all afternoon without producing the final pass. At the last, he found it. Fed by Steven Naismith, he stood the ball up for Pienaar to attack. The midfielder's stooping header gave Hugo Lloris no chance. Everton had their 1,000th goal in the Premier League.
The fourth official had barely lowered the board displaying four minutes of added time when the winner arrived. Again it came from Everton's right, this time through Darron Gibson who, on his return after three months out, steered in a cross that caused chaos in the Spurs box. Substitute Apostolos Vellios tried an overhead kick, but his mishit fell to Jelavic, hovering on Gallas's shoulder. He struck a slick first-time finish for only his second goal in nine games.
Moyes's fist-pumping celebration was wild by his standards. He claimed the result was justice done. "That [finish] is as good as we've had, but we have had a few like that were we have lost so we were due one," he said.
"If Everton had not won, we would have been asking why not. We played terrifically well, Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman from an attacking point of view but we just couldn't find the final pass or finish to kill it off," he added.
Moyes felt it was too early to determine whether a Champions League challenge is viable, but said his side were not flattered by the league table. "The position doesn't shame our performances, but the Premier League is so tight."
For Villas-Boas there was familiar frustration, but no explanation of his side's vulnerability late in games. "It was a disappointing result in the end," he said. "It has been our adventure so far this season. If we count the number of goals we concede in the last 15 minutes, we would be top. There are so many different reasons, it is not easy to explain because some come from different situations. It is something we need to improve on, to see off games," he added.