Setting: Modern day. A small town in Pennsylvania and the ice cap of Greenland.
The Patterson family loves the holidays and annually attend the Hampton Hill Tree Lighting Festival. But after their mother Carol’s passing, young Ben, his big sister Kami (a pre-med student at Yale) and their father Harry struggle to celebrate, and Kami decides to stop coming home for Christmas (“The Perfect Christmas”). Ben, nine years old and autistic, has discovered the key to dealing with the ups and downs of life is sharing them with his best friend—an elf doll named Charley (Here’s the Thing). When Harry is assigned a top-secret deployment just weeks before Christmas, he asks Kami to come home to stay with Ben. Kami reluctantly agrees (“Just Fly”). Before leaving, Harry reassures Ben with a “magic” compass (“Your True North”). Harry arrives at a classified base on the ice cap of Greenland, with orders to restore its failing power supply (“Rest Up Ye Merry Gentlemen”). While working out on the ice cap, Harry unknowingly stumbles upon the North Pole. Disguised elves Snap and Charley quickly send him away but Agent Skittle (North Pole Central Intelligence) arrives and wants to report the intruder. Snap and Charley convince her to keep the visit a secret (“In the Dark”). Back at home, Ben struggles with not knowing the location or length of Harry’s deployment (“Tell Me”). With a little encouragement from Charley, Ben writes a letter asking Santa to bring his dad to High Falls Bluff—the site of their family’s annual holiday hike—on Christmas Eve (“Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”). Although Ben converses with his Charley doll, he has become completely nonverbal with Kami, and she worries if she is up to the task of taking care of him (“Say Something”). Working out on the ice cap, Harry gets caught in a snowstorm and awakens (unaware) at the North Pole. He demands to know his captors, and Charley provides a full reveal of the secret village (“The Best Kept Secret That Everybody Knows”). Ben sets out for High Falls on Christmas Eve, and Kami awakens to discover he is missing (“Make It Happen”).
Kami searches for clues to Ben’s whereabouts. She finds drafts of Ben’s letter to Santa and anxiously sets off for High Falls (“If I Were Ben”). Ben enjoys his independence hiking to High Falls (“Sensational”), but after dropping his toy Charley and the compass down a large ravine, he retreats into a cave, unable to continue. Searching for Ben, Kami finds the Charley doll and breaks down, feeling alone and afraid of losing the rest of her family (“You Can’t Outgrow Christmas”). She finds Ben and agrees to continue with him up the mountain. At the North Pole, the elves discover Ben’s letter (“Kids These Days”) and rush to relay the news to Harry. Snap, Santa’s mechanic, has access to the sleigh and offers to sneak Harry home, but a reindeer grooming renders it grounded. Harry discovers the compass mysteriously back in his pocket, which Snap claims has sufficient magic to power the sleigh. Snap and Harry take off in the sleigh and head for High Falls (“The Day We Hijacked Santa’s Sleigh”). Upon arriving at the foot of High Falls, Harry takes the compass to find Ben, leaving Snap—and the sleigh—stranded in the Southern Yonder. Harry finds Ben and Kami at the top of the mountain watching the Northern Lights. Ben is satisfied with his successful plan, and Kami finds a renewed love for family. Charley arrives to rescue Snap and the sleigh, and they all officially start the holiday season (“The Perfect Christmas/Finale”).