So much for the season of goodwill to all men, but Burnley did at least accept the gift on offer with a sixth away win of the campaign against nine-man Brighton.
Playing with a two-man advantage for the best part of 80 minutes, the Clarets needed a goal from the unlikely figure of full-back Kieran Trippier to clip the wings of the bad tempered Seagulls.
Trippier's 32nd-minute thunderbolt was enough to secure a third successive away win as Brighton, who had Romain Vincelot and Ashley Barnes sent off in a stormy opening, were beaten at their impressive new ground for only the third time.
Albion hardly laid on a warm welcome from the moment Vincelot struck out at Marvin Bartley on what developed into an ugly afternoon for football.
But with the Clarets able to get their noses in front and, despite some major scares, see things out with only a third clean sheet of the campaign, they were able to bank the points and move onto a Christmas holiday programme which gives them the chance to climb into the top ten.
The touch-paper for a remarkable game was lit almost from the off when Vincelot swung an arm at Bartley, which went un-noticed by referee Craig Pawson but not Clarets' assistant Jason Tindall and fourth official Andrew Laver.
Romain Vincelot is the first to see red
Vincelot was duly sent off and with red mist descending all around the Amex Community Stadium, Barnes quickly followed him.
Chris McCann's tackle on the Albion forward was judged perfectly fair by the overworked Pawson, unlike the reaction of Barnes who appeared to stamp on the Clarets' skipper on the floor to follow Vincelot to the dressing room and leave his side with nine men.
With Brighton's bench hardly covering themselves with glory - manager Gus Poyet storming off down the tunnel at one point - and some of Albion's players doing their level best to get Burnley's numbers reduced, the Clarets struggled to make their advantage count.
Howe's side, with Martin Paterson starting his first game since the opening day of the season and clocking up his 100th appearance for the club, couldn't get anything going as they seemed bemused by the chaos swirling around them.
Ashley Barnes also walks after a challenge on Chris McCann
There were more than 20 minutes gone when Jay Rodriguez shot into the side netting with Burnley's first serious attempt.
But Trippier finally brought some relief with his first League goal for the Clarets when he cut through the nonsense with a 25-yard thunderbolt that flew into the top corner following a short corner worked by Ross Wallace and Dean Marney.
Only a fine save from Casper Ankergren then prevented Rodriguez from making it 2-0 as he connected with a Trippier cross.
But while there was only one goal in it Brighton sensed they still had a chance, looking dangerous on the break through lively substitute Craig Noone, who might have had a penalty after going down under a challenge from Michael Duff, and getting an angry crowd right behind them every time they went forward.
Howe made a change at the break in an effort to kill the game off with Sam Vokes replacing Bartley and not surprisingly the Clarets immediately set up camp in the Brighton half, although again they found it hard going to create any clear-cut chances.
Match-winner Kieran Trippier is mobbed by the Clarets
A deflected shot from Paterson dropped just wide and Ankergren just about held onto a shot from Wallace.
Trippier was a constant outlet down the right side for the Clarets and delivered a succession of balls into the penalty area but frustratingly for the visitors no-one in a yellow shirt could get a decisive touch as Brighton defended for their lives.
Ankergren was at least being made to work as he gathered a drive from Rodriguez and then tipped over a long-range effort from Ben Mee with 20 minutes to go.
But without a second goal the Clarets became increasingly nervy against an Albion side with nothing to lose and which three times almost grabbed an equaliser around the 80-minute mark.
Relief all round and Pato is back!
Firstly Mauricio Taricco forced Lee Grant into his first save of the afternoon and then twice top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith, who had played a lone hand almost afternoon, put efforts inches wide.
But if that was close, what happened in injury time was barely watchable for Burnley.
Mackail-Smith again got in behind the Clarets' defence and after forcing Grant to make an excellent save then somehow failed to beat David Edgar, whose goalline clearance earned him, along with Trippier, match-winner's status.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Marney, Bartley (Vokes ht), McCann, Wallace, Paterson (Austin 67), Rodriguez. Subs: Stanislas, Amougou, Stewart.
Booked: Edgar 19, Paterson 38
Brighton: Ankergren, Taricco, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd, Barnes, Harley (Noone 20), Vicelot, LuaLua (Navarro 20), Mackail-Smith, Bridcutt (Buckley 89). Subs: Paynter, Brezovan.
Booked: Taricco. Sent off: Vincelot 5, Barnes 12
Referee: Craig Pawson
Attendance: 19,641 (Burnley 983)