Good thoughts, Nickie. One perhaps utterly uninformed suggestion (that is, ignore it if it makes no sense at all) is to have her use the wooden toy horse to track down the father/toymaker– that way the toy has plot significance. Again, ignore if it doesn’t work!
With a motif, I like to explore what the emotion is– Christmas cookies. Comfort. Family. Sharing. Tradition. Memory. Childhood.
All those things come to mind… what’s the emotion? More than nostalgia, I think. Maybe… she’s obviously very sensitive to the child, and so I wonder if she has a special intuition or understanding about childhood. I wonder what her childhood was like. I wonder what happened at some long ago Christmas?
The motif is a clue… sometimes.