It was not a normal day of shopping at the supermarket, firstly because my daughter Bruna was tugging at my sleeve with extreme childlike force to get to the toy aisle as soon as possible. “I want the red-haired one called Colorito,” she said in a sort of mantra that she tirelessly repeated with the impetus that only a child can have. It was only October, but the place was already decorated in Christmas colors and my daughter’s face completely won me over when she looked at me with a grin that went from ear to ear, while holding her treasure in her hands. It was the first time that I had seen it. This simple cloth doll was what my daughter wanted so badly? It was, and I have to admit that the little elf filled me with affection at first sight. Looking at the box, I could appreciate the surprising level of dedication; beautifully designed, it told a legend that spoke of the magic of Christmas and that this small being would come to life to cause mischief in the weeks before Christmas Eve… The rest is already part of our family tradition, and you’ll soon understand why.
Once home, Bruna and I shared the experience of touching its smooth fabric and watching its red hair sway funnily. I have to admit that I found it very cute, as the lanky elf has a design that inspires absolute affection. “An elegant simplicity” is the correct phrase to crown a toy that seems to have been handmade by an artisan, evoking images of the legendary Santa’s workshop, which surely must exist to achieve these wonders.
And I repeat the word “wonder”, because watching your daughter and her friends play with rag dolls, elves, reindeer and pets, to whom they give voices and movements full of great ingenuity, is a beautiful thing.
Watching her play also took me back to my own childhood memories; good memories, wonderful ones, those that marked a time in my life. Experiences and traditions that were deep in my heart and that I now want to repeat with my children, my family, and I hope will be passed down from generation to generation.
I managed to remember those treasured moments playing with my dad, with the excited atmosphere that he always wanted to be present at the New Year, on our birthdays and especially at Christmas. To remember is “to feel it in your heart once more” and, because of this, I now feel the complicity I shared with my siblings, playing with simple things in our grandparents’ garden, or living in the south of Chile. This evokes images of my older brother who, even though he used his hierarchy and took advantage of his status as eldest son, always gave me that feeling of protection and humor that exists between an older brother and younger sister. How was it possible for that Magic Friend to trigger so much nostalgia? Whenever my daughter went to sleep, the elf remained somewhere in the house. In addition to being a beautiful decoration for the armchair or the Christmas tree, it became an enigma that grew day by day with its unconditional smile; a beautiful woven line that conveys confidence and joy.
The days passed and the relationship with those dolls didn’t take long to grow. I met other boys and girls; with their laughter, their sorrows, their naive faces, their imagination in developing roleplay games, inventing stories where they could dream and express themselves… always with these new and simple rag dolls. I observed that they were the inspiration for different topics, with stories full of messages of friendship, courage, companionship, perseverance, and so much more.
It was already November when my son Mikhal, who was ten years old, joined this movement by demanding his own Magic Friend. I was happy to discover that his favorite was Goldy, a charming and bright yellow puppy from the collection. When he had him in his hands, and he was already part of the family, my son told me that he is the guardian of golden magic who accompanies children with cancer. His words surprised me and I immediately wanted to know more. I found out through the description on the box that buying that gluttonous little puppy supports the Fundación Nuestros Hijos (Our Children), making our children and families aware of the different experiences of children with cancer around the world. Symbolized by the golden ribbon that the character wears, they support an ambitious Chilean project for a state-of-the-art children’s hospital, a shelter house for their families, pedagogical schools, and psychological and social support for school and work reintegration for children and parents, among other things.
Clearly, the enigma of the toys’ creators was indelibly planted in my mind. In my screenwriting career, I have always wanted to delve into child development, as I feel that we owe a huge debt to children in this country. It really surprised me to discover that a toy created and developed in Chile had even made it onto the news. Yes, one December night, on the news I saw women literally fight over these figures, while the aisles of supermarkets and stores remained fully stocked with other more violent toys, alongside princesses and galactic robots; Chile’s children wanted their Magic Friend and nobody could sway them from that adventure.
A screenwriter must first research, and that is what I did, calling the creative agency of the famous collection. Not expecting to receive a reply (as is usually the case with that classic first call), I was surprised to hear a cordial voice on the other end, attentive to my needs. That was how I made my first appointment to a place full of joy and surprises, a place packed with beautiful elf designs, and a team that works with joy and dedication. It really was a dream office, where designers and writers weave the content of the franchise.
That was how I met Bernardita Astaburuaga, the founder of the number one children toys license in our country. She told me that she is proud “of contributing to building the future, from childhood and the family nucleus, with more than 80 characters as role models for the development of boys and girls in their formative years, which will form the basis of the men and women of the future.” With a smile, she added, “we are proud to create work, not only to empower and create opportunities for so much creative Chilean talent – writers, screenwriters, designers, animators, publicists, musicians and more – but also for all those who support the difficult logistical operation that allows us to bring the magic of believing again, playing and laughing again, to every corner of the country.”
I was distracted as my eyes looked over the hundreds of projects in which they are involved. I see boardgames, perfumes, bicycles, clothes and costumes, books, albums, audiobooks and so many other things that I feel a little out of place. But that place is like a magic castle, and I don’t feel so far removed because, thanks to my children, I feel that this tradition belongs to me. And so, I discover the enigma; these toys that came into my life one day have awoken the child inside of me. And not just me, because, on any given Sunday, you can see my husband alongside Bruna and Mikhal, making up voices and breathing life into the dolls that have that simple and beautiful magic we call PLAY.
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