A View from the Hill: Your ultimate non-Bezos last-minute gift guide

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I thought I had another two weeks to write this column, in which case it wouldn’t have been the column I will write today, but I was mistaken – I just found out the column is due today, which is kind of last-minute, which got me thinking about last-minute holiday gifts.

I have a few suggestions.

The only rule here is that the gift can’t be from Amazon, even if you are a Prime member, and that means it also can’t be from Whole Foods, Zappos, or Audible, among others owned by Jeff Bezos, or from the Washington Post, although that’s not a bad idea. OK, I’ll waive the Washington Post exclusion. (Honest disclosure: I am a Prime member and a Washington Post subscriber.)

Why that rule? Just. Too. Easy. Like gift cards. Be creative.

Let’s think of something Bezos doesn’t own. Oh, I know: Tesla! Another guy, Elon Musk, owns that, among other things, like SpaceX, where you could probably buy a rocket ship or at least a trip on one to outer space, but that would take a while and this is supposed to be last minute.

(Honest disclosure: My son worked years ago for Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal, at a startup in Boulder, Colorado; also, I may have eaten at Kimbal’s restaurant, The Kitchen, in Boulder; also I use PayPal, which he owns, to pay for things. There’s no getting away from this stuff.)

So, anyway, for the environmentalist on your list, how about a Tesla Model 3 electric car? It’s hip, looks great, a little bit impractical, and, best of all, you can buy it without leaving your desk chair. Right now. Easy, but not too easy.

Let’s try it.

Go to the Tesla Model 3 website and hit the “order now” button. Select a color, but be aware that if you want any color other than white, and who wouldn’t, you’ll need to put an extra grand on the table, or, in the case of a nice holiday red, two grand. 

You could be done right now with the Standard Range Plus at $39,990. But since we’re in Maine, where, for the time being anyway, it snows, you’ll want the all-wheel-drive version ($48,990), which also has a longer range of 322 miles, which is good because Maine isn’t near anything. Don’t bother with the performance model – you already can’t afford what we’ve put together so far.

Hit “next.” You’ll see a summary. You can choose to pay cash, lease the car, or borrow. Create an account, pay a non-refundable $100 deposit (they don’t take PayPal,) hit “place order,” and, bingo, you’re done. They’ll deliver the car directly to the gift recipient. 

Oh, wait. I didn’t see the estimated delivery time. Five to eight weeks. 

Never mind.

How about the fitness nut on your list? Nothing frightens or disappoints an insecure, nervous partner like a Peloton bike under the tree. Peleton says it can still deliver by Christmas, at least as of today, which is Dec. 16. Be warned, you may not get the reaction you hoped for on Christmas Day, but in a year, after 365 sweat-soaked workouts led by endlessly upbeat underdressed overachievers, your loved one will be thanking you. And you’ll still be paying the monthly membership fee.

(Honest disclosure: I recently bought a Peloton bike. I don’t know why.)

Or maybe there’s a journalist on your list. Larry Persily, the publisher of the Skagway News in Skagway, Alaska (“Serving the Gateway to the Klondike Since 1897”), is selling his newspaper, lock, stock and barrel. Best part? The price: $0. He says you can make $50,000 a year if you can maintain the circulation of 550 in the town of 1,000. (Any publisher would kill for that kind of market penetration.)

Of course your recipient would have to live there. But it’s only 4,010 miles from Portland. 

So, procrastinators, there you have a few suggestions. Hope it helps. As for me, I’m going to walk to one of my great local bookstores (remember the Amazon rule!) and pick out some gift books. It’s easy (but not too easy,) affordable, thoughtful, and books last forever. Happy holidays!

Andrew Marsters is an award-winning journalist, and former journalism instructor at the University of New Hampshire. He lives on Munjoy Hill.

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