Ramona is well into her second grade year at Glenwood School, and all is going well until one day her father comes home and announces he has lost his job. The Quimbys must now cope with the breadwinner searching for another job, filling out job applications and collecting unemployment insurance. Mrs. Quimby goes to work full time, but things are still very tight for the family. Mr. Quimby gets depressed and Mrs. Quimby tells the children that they must not do anything that would further upset their dad.
Ramona wants to help, so she crosses almost everything off her wish list for Christmas. Then she adds one more item - a happy family. But will her wish come true? The Quimby's are also dealing with the family's temperamental car, Beezus' problems with creative writing, and Ramona's efforts to get her father to stop smoking. One day when Ramona worries about the family, Mr. Quimby reassures her the Quimbys will always be together and strong, no matter what happens.
That Christmas Beezus and Ramona participate in their church's Christmas pageant. Beezus is to be the Virgin Mary and Ramona decides that she and her friends Howie and Davy should be sheep. Unfortunately, her Mother doesn't have time to sew a costume so Ramona has to wear a pair of old pajamas, which she hates. In the end, the sheep steal the show and Ramona and her family share a wonderful night together.