'Tis a Gift is the Christmas special and first season finale of Shining Time Station. It was produced in 1990 and released on VHS in 1992 by A*Vision Entertainment.
It takes place during the Christmas season at Shining Time Station. The scene opens with Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr) with an axe over one shoulder, dragging a miniature evergreen along the top of a bench heading towards his home.
The station is filled with people trying to catch trains to take them to see their families. Even Schemer (Brian O'Connor) is in a good mood, because the Indian Valley committee is putting on a Christmas pageant and he is almost certain to get the part of Santa's helper. The kids, Matt (Jason Woliner) and Tanya (Nicole Leach), write letters to Santa Claus and Mr. Conductor sends them on their way. He then tells the kids the story of the time Thomas the Tank Engine had a Christmas Party:
- The story is called Thomas' Christmas Party.
- Mrs. Kyndley, and old friend of Thomas' who lived by the railway, had once stopped Thomas just in time before he got into a nasty accident and Thomas realized the other engines: Gordon, James, Henry, Edward and Percy have never thanked her properly so Thomas proposes they throw a Christmas party, but then Sir Topham Hatt had bad news: Mrs. Kyndley was snowed in and had to be rescued, so Thomas, Toby and Percy head out to do just that and are successful and when they return to the shed, they have their Christmas party!
An old man, Mr. Nicholas (Lloyd Bridges), enters the station carrying a Christmas tree with Harry's cousin Tucker Cupper (Ardon Bess), and immediately knows everything about Stacy Jones (Didi Conn) from when she was a little girl. Mr. Nicholas says he is there to catch the Northern Star, a train that doesn't run on that railway, but Mr. Nicholas is confident it will come.
Meanwhile, Stacy agrees to watch Claire's (Judy Marshak) daughter, Vickie (Rachel Miner), a bratty little girl, at the station. Matt and Tanya dislike her because of her attitude. She meets Mr. Nicholas who teaches her to be nice to people and it soon begins to work; Schemer's mom has made him a Santa's helper costume and he begins his campaign against Stacy by telling Midge Smoot (Bobo Lewis), J.B. King (Mart Hulswit) and the Mayor (Jerome Dempsey) untrue things about her. Mr. Conductor tells the kids another story from the Island of Sodor:
- The story is called Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree.
- It was almost Christmas on Sodor. Thomas went to get a Christmas tree but got stuck in a bank of snow. Donald and Douglas saved him and when they come to the big station, they have a Christmas party!
Mr. Nicholas (actually Santa Claus) is still waiting for the Northern Star. To everyone's surprise, the train pulls into the station as he had predicted. Meanwhile, the fighting continues over who will play the part of Santa's helper. Mr. Nicholas encourages Vickie to use her gift of song to quell the conflict. Her singing of the 1848 Shaker song "Simple Gifts" reminds them all of the true spirit of Christmas. Harmony is restored as all gather around the tree to celebrate the power of believing.