The events in this story revolve around making Christmas fruitcakes. Buddy, a young boy, has been sent to live with relatives. He becomes close with an older cousin named Sook. Sook is childlike and dependent on her relatives for a roof over her head. However, she has a very kind heart, and every year makes and sends Christmas fruitcakes to a list of people she likes, such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The story takes place during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The problem is that neither Buddy or Sook have the money it takes to buy ingredients for the fruitcakes or money for postage to mail the fruitcakes. Much of the story involves describing the many creative ways they go about raising money to solve this problem.
At the end of the story, Buddy is sent away to a military academy, so he faces the additional problem of being separated from Sook. The two solve that problem by writing letters to each other. After Sook dies, Buddy holds the memory of her warmth and joyful approach to life in his heart.