In the midst of war in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Master Sergeant Cody Cullen (John Newton) is given a Christmas card from a fellow soldier who had received it from his hometown, Nevada City, California. The card was sent by Faith Spelman (Alice Evans). As months pass, the card never leaves his side. Cody, who has no family, and whose father was killed during the Vietnam War, is deeply affected when the soldier who gave him the card is killed during an enemy rocket attack. A superior encourages Cody to go on leave. A few weeks before Christmas, Cody travels to see the soldier's widow, back in Nevada City, to give her her husband's dogtags. Just before he is to leave town, Cody runs into Faith at a local luncheonette, where she has mistaken his order for her take-out order (their orders are identical). Faith is an attractive, thirtysomething woman. They part, but just as Cody is about to leave town he saves Faith's father, Luke (Ed Asner), from being hit by a speeding car. Luke takes a liking to Cody and convinces him to stay on as temporary help at his family's logging company. At this point, we are introduced to Paul (Ben Weber), Faith's longtime boyfriend who travels much of the time, and who selfishly wants Faith to move away from her close-knit family in Nevada City, and "travel the world", which she is reluctant to do.
Complicating matters, Cody has fallen in love with Faith. And despite her attempts to conceal it, the feeling has apparently become mutual when they share a kiss after falling in the snow. When Paul unexpectedly asks Faith to marry him, she says yes. Even so, Paul downplays Faith's wish to stay near her family in the "boondocks". This all comes to a head on Christmas Eve. On the church steps, Cody and Paul meet, and Cody admits that he loves Faith, but accepts that she's going to marry Paul instead, and hopes that Paul is marrying Faith "for all the right reasons". In church, in spite of the presence of Paul by her side, Faith keeps turning around, obviously looking for Cody, who has decided not to attend the services. When the minister asks the congregation to pray for the men and women serving in the armed forces, Faith has tears in her eyes. Seeing this, Paul blows out his candle and leaves the church. Faith quickly follows, and on the church steps tearfully hands her engagement ring back to Paul. Meanwhile, Cody has returned to the woodshop to finish his Christmas present.
Early on Christmas Day, Cody places a Christmas card on the family Christmas tree, which will direct the family to the Christmas present, a wooden bench (inscribed with "Where the Magic Begins") that he has been building, which he has placed at the family's favorite spot at a nearby lake where he and Faith first kissed. Later, when the family arrives at the lake, there's a Christmas card on the bench addressed to Faith. After looking at the photos that Cody has included of her and Cody, she sees a handwritten note, which she reads aloud. In the note, Cody confesses his love for Faith, and says goodbye. After reading this, she glances at Luke, who, unbeknownst to her, has "had a plan" about her and Cody all along, and asks him whether it was her letter that brought Cody to Nevada City, to which Luke answers: no, you did. Faith realizes that she needs to find Cody, to which Luke adds that he has an idea where Cody may have gone before leaving town. In the movie's final scene, Faith finds Cody at the local Vietnam War veterans' memorial. She chastises him for not saying goodbye, but before she can complete the sentence he kisses her, and she embraces him as the camera pans away; the implication being that they will likely marry after all.John Haymes Newton as (Sgt.) Cody Cullen
Alice Evans as Faith Spelman
Edward Asner as Luke Spelman
Peter Jason as Uncle Richard
Lois Nettleton as Rosie Spelman
Ben Weber as Paul
Andrew Sanford as Sammy
Kate Hamon as Selma
Glorinda Marie as Molly
Charlie Holliday as Reverend Ives
Kurt Johnson as Eric
Brooke Davis as Liddy
Nick Ballard as Jonesy
Chad Collins as Lewis
Brian Robinson as Edo
Hallmark Channel collaborated with Operation Dear Abby, who issued a special message in her column: "This holiday season – support the troops by sending a message to our servicemembers." The network also put together a national Cards for Troops campaign and a partnership with America Supports You to build support of Americans for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services. Hallmark Channel also set up a satellite link to reunite Jennifer Parsley, a young woman from Porter, Texas who sent thousands of cards to troops through Operation Gratitude and in the process met serviceman Jeremy Harshman, who is deployed overseas.
The movie ranked as Hallmark Channel’s highest-ever-rated telecast on the date of its premiere. The network also ranked #1 in Prime Time that day, making it the most-watched telecast on basic cable for the day.
For his performance as Luke, Edward Asner was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2007.