Jessica Riggs is an 8 year old girl whose mother died of unknown causes and who is in the not very adequate care of her rough, quiet, protective father John Riggs. In the Christmas season, Jessica finds a hurt reindeer who she believes to be Santa's reindeer Prancer and sets herself on nursing Prancer back to health, and a deep bond grows between the two. She is helped by a friendly old veterinarian, befriends the old town recluse, and comes to forge a closer relationship with her older brother Steve. She and her father often clash after he discovers Prancer living in the barn and, despite her widowed father revealing brief moments of deep love for his daughter, he does not understand Jessica's special love for helping the reindeer. After there is a misunderstanding and he sells Prancer to the media temporarily, his walls of hard feelings he built over the years broke down and he and Jessica finally forge a deep, loving bond. Jessica, after several emotional and physical struggles between her best friend, her family, and the town, manages to cure her beloved Prancer and set him free, where he is seen flying to the sky to rejoin the other seven deer of Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve.