Lucy McLaren, a resident of Calgary, Alberta, plans her mother’s 70th birthday party to be held in Vancouver, BC. Her mother is feeling isolated and depressed, while she feels her own life has grown cold. She is determined to make some changes and warm up their lives. After Bonnie becomes the elderly woman’s part-time caregiver, the McLarens welcome a teenaged international student from Korea into their home. During the Christmas holidays, while the men in the family take the Korean youth along on a Christmas ski trip, the women go to visit the grandmother, inviting Bonnie and two of her friends on an excursion to Victoria. The women also include Nona, Lucy’s young niece who has been left on her own while her mother, far away in Ontario, nurses her gravely ill sister. Nona has the support of another woman, a middle aged social worker-turned-friend named Ms. Malinsky, who manages to emerge from a decade-long bereavement. The new friends bond by the time the birthday party takes place, and the characters find comfort, strength and inspiration from the association with each other. The old woman turns over a new leaf and schemes to find Bonnie a date for the birthday party, while the Korean boy refuses to go home and convinces his parents to visit in time for the party. Ms. Malinsky, a guest at the party in the end, becomes a big sister of sorts to Nona while Nona becomes a big sister to Lucy’s youngest child, Trixie. The experience of the big event and the new exchanges serve to rekindle the relationship between Lucy and her husband, and, at the party, the couple pledges to return to romance.