Outlaw Joshua Manning becomes a fugitive when his companion shoots a young Christian missionary in a robbery attempt a few days before Christmas in 1905. Escaping, he travels alone from Illinois to nearby Wisconsin, taking shelter in a thicket of pine trees. As a bitterly cold snow storm stalls out over the Mississippi River Valley, he falls asleep upon an icy bedroll by his fading campfire. Near death, he dreams about his earlier life.
He remembers his grandmother and the farm hands who made up his family as a young child. When his grandmother dies, he is sent to an orphanage. There he meets Luke and Russell, who become his family when they leave the orphanage together. Outcasts, they form a band of highway robbers, but thieving never feels right to Joshua, his grandmother's biblical teachings haunting him in his dreams. And his heart aches as memories of Samantha engulf him-Samantha in red velvet. Why did she marry another man when she was promised to him?
On Christmas Eve, he awakens from a deep slumber, a hundred years into the future, hearing the cries of nine-year-old Tommy Barker. Fearing for the boy's safety, Joshua takes him back to his family's farmhouse as the winter storm escalates. Tommy's mother, thankful for the return of her son, invites Joshua to share the holiday with their family.
Eventually, the twenty-first century invades the proceedings, and Joshua is forced to come to terms with his own humanity and spirituality. Together, Joshua and Tommy unravel the mystery that is eternal life.