Francine In Retirement
Seeing Life Through Photography


This time last year I went with a group of women on a motor coach ride to the neighboring state of Ohio.  The destination of our ride was to shop at a Christmas store called Tis the Season.

Christmas Shoppe

Inside the two-story shop were many separate rooms dedicated to specific needs: trees, wreaths, figurines, ribbons and bows, ornaments, etc.

Inside shop

Looking around you could see that there  were a number of life-sized Santa’s placed all over the store.  Each one differently dressed but realistic to the eye at first glance.  Many of them looked like the one below.

Santa in Green

I went upstairs to explore the rooms there.  I wandered into one room and found another life-size Santa sitting alone in front of a fireplace with a stocking full of candy canes.  I lifted my camera to take a picture of the charming scene before me, when to my great surprise the Santa moved.  I jumped and giggled, not realizing that it was a real, alive, Santa sitting there.  We both had a wonderful chuckle and he invited me to sit on his lap.  He said he could call one of the elves to take a picture of us with my camera.  I declined, too embarrassed.  But I did take a candy cane.

Real Santa

Afterwards I regretted not getting that picture. I am sure it would have been a nice souvenir and something for my grandchildren to laugh and tease me about.


European Market in Market Square

While on a photo shoot last weekend in downtown Pittsburgh, I was surprised to see this unique Christmas outdoor shopping  place located inside Market Square.

Inspired by the original Christkindlemarket created in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, and the Christkindlemarket in Chicago, IL, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market brings a cherished German tradition with international flair and local charm to Downtown Pittsburgh. Visitors are in for a one-of-a-kind holiday shopping experience as they stroll through an illuminated Market Square, weaving through the European-style wooden chalets, adorned with holly and illuminated with little white lights.  It’s the perfect atmosphere for families and friends to enjoy the magic of the season.


Santa's House

Never discount a second opportunity.  While strolling through the holiday market I was given a card for a free photo to be taken with, you guessed it, SANTA CLAUSE!  This time I am not going to miss this opportunity, no matter what others may think.

Free Santa Photo

Don’t you miss the opportunity to see other entries to A Christmas Surprise on the Island Traveler’s blog.




  1. Sounds like a great place to visit and that you had a good time, too. 🙂

  2. Well where is the picture of you and Santa???

    • The picture is coming Gilly, I just received my free ticket last weekend and I was not dressed to see Santa. I will be seeing him this weekend. And I will show the photo next week.

  3. Do we get to see the photo? And I got my first candy cane of the season last night. I love them!

    • Yes, you will get to see the photo, no matter how silly I will look. Will be going this weekend to get it taken. Check next week to see the results. If it makes you laugh, that OK, I will feel like I was just spreading the joy of the season.

  4. Oh, what treasures! Wish we had a place like that around here, as you have in Pittsburg. That place in Ohio reminds me a bit of The Christmas Village in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, although that realistic Santa was awesome at your Ohio store! The way you told your story of the Santa sitting in the chair with the candy canes and then “the Santa moved” painted a glorious picture and I could so see it happening as if I was there. You have a great talent for story telling. You gonna share that photo? Or too embarrassed? Ah, be a kid again. Share your sweet, happy photo with Santa. I think I may have to snag a photo with Santa, along with Hallie. It’s probably the only way I can get her to sit on Santa’s lap. tehe! Lovely post, dear friend!

  5. Thanks Carol. I didn’t get the free photo taken yet. I wasn’t dress in my Santa clothes. I will be getting my picture taken this weekend. So look for it sometime next week. I think you should get a picture taken with your daughter as well.

  6. Francine ! Is is just my opinion or do you have a little crush on Santa? 😀 He looks a great one btw

  7. Gorgeous Christmas photos, Francine. Looking forward to seeing you and Santa together. 🙂

  8. Tis A Season is my dream Christmas store. All the sparkle and joyful colors of the holidays in one roof…awesome! The live Santa was a fun surprise. I would probably jump if the Santa I thought was a statue starts moving and talking. Merry Christmas my friend. Wishing you and your family all the wonderful blessings of the holidays.

  9. OMG that guy looks really like Santa, how exciting was that. I would’ve taken a dozen picture with him lol 🙂 What great way to spend the Christmas holiday, the houses looks like little gingerbread houses 🙂 Merry Christmas !

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