It’s the fourth Wednesday of November, and Patrick Guthrie is giving thanks. He’s giving thanks that his eight-year-old son, Braden, will finally have a procedure on his heart that will cure him of the same life-threatening condition that took Patrick’s wife several years earlier. But when Patrick suddenly loses his job teaching drama at a New York City high school, his already desperate financial situation becomes dire. Rebecca Brody, a social worker, shows up at his door with a judge’s order for him to appear before the city’s family court to determine if Patrick is financially fit, and Patrick realizes he is in danger of losing his son.
Patrick knows that he must somehow make it through the holiday season to a new job waiting for him in the new year. He also knows that Ted Cake, his former father-in-law, blames Patrick so much for the death of his daughter that he, a rich and disagreeable man, is the one pushing the city to call the custody hearing and give the boy over to him. Now Patrick has only three weeks before Christmas to somehow make enough money to pay his bills, present himself to the family court as a fit father, and keep Braden in his life.
It’s when Patrick sees a charming beggar on the subway dressed up as a crazy alien that he gets an idea. In true Dickensian holiday spirit, Patrick makes use of his old acting skills and his love of A Christmas Carol and takes to the streets in the guise of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Making a midtown corner his performing stage, he begins to touch and change the lives of all those who come his way, including Rebecca Brody and the bitter and heartbroken Ted Cake.