In 1985 Mr. Macdonald wanted his two youngsters to learn the real story of Christmas and not just focus on all the trappings of the festive seasons.
“I wanted to bring Christ into our family celebration,” he said. “I was disappointed in what I found. There were loads of books about Santa but few about the birth of Jesus.
“Most of those books were too juvenile or had cartoon-like characters. I was amazed that one of the greatest and best loved stories of all time should be so poorly represented. An idea slowly emerged that I needed to write this story.”
Mr. Macdonald said he wanted to write a book that would appeal to children and adults alike, a book that families could share at Christmas.
“The book needed to be like ‘The Night Before Christmas’, a book that families would cherish from generation to generation,” he said.
Financial advisor Mr. Macdonald said he decided the story should be in rhyming verse “for poetry seems to touch people’s hearts and souls.”
“An idea came to mind that the narrator should be a donkey, a donkey named Zeke, a good old fashioned, Old Testament name,” he said. “And that’s how my book ‘First Christmas’ began and almost finished. I had never written poetry before and every year I would pull out my project and write a few more lines. It was a bit of a family joke as the kids would laugh, ‘Dad’s writing his poem again’!” Yes, it took me almost 20 years to write the poem, a true labor of love.”
Mr. Macdonald discovered the work of Coptic Christian artist Adel Nassief and had him paint 21 pictures the my book in the style of Coptic icons, striking illustrations that add dignity to the story. .
“Welcome Books in New York and their staff, Clark Wakabayashi and Natasha Tabori Fried did a marvelous job of designing the book,” he said. “It is a hard cover book with a wonderful red cloth cover. The lettering on the front of the book is in engraved gold and one of Adel’s pictures is ‘tipped’ into the cover.
“It is a very striking cover. Inside the book is just as impressive. The printing is in five colour rather than the usual four color ink printing. The extra color is gold and the production value of the printing is outstanding.”
Published in 2008, Mr. Macdonald uses “First Christmas” as a fund-raising vehicle for charities.
“In Bermuda I tried this out with my church, St. John’s in Pembroke, and another Christian charity with some success,” he said. “In 2010 I rolled this idea out to Dallas where my wife Charlene and I have a second home. I have a wonderful resource of books that can be sold at a premium by charities.
“I am only interested in getting back a small portion of the funds that I have invested in this project. If I can raise $500,000 for worthy charities then all my effort will be more than worth it. And in the process, maybe Zeke’s story will touch people’s hearts and make Jesus a more important part of our Christmas celebration.”