Okay, this is a bit of a rerun, but it still (and always will) applies. If you are on an electronic device this July 4th, read this column, then TURN IT OFF and have some non-electronic Fourth of July fun!

–Mary Fran

MP900227558It’s all about freedom, isn’t it?

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is our nation’s birthday. The day when we celebrate the blessings of living in a country where we can pretty much do whatever we want, whenever we want.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, yeah, in theory.

But sometimes, what we should be celebrating is the fact that we can choose not to do certain things. Because certain things are, well, stupid, and exercising the right to not do them is often the more enlightened path.

Not that everyone in America is on the fast track to enlightenment, which will become clearer as we continue. But I think I’m going to celebrate Independence Day this year by not exercising several of the freedoms guaranteed me by our country’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

This Independence Day, I will choose not to watch any “reality” TV. No KarTRASHians (I mean, isn’t their shelf-life expired, yet?), no Bachelorette (I’m ashamed to admit I know the names and dating histories of the past seven Bachelors and Bachelorettes. Brad “Pickelsimer” Womack, anyone?), no Duck Dynasty (Do those guys actually carry guns? Please say no.).

Yes, reality TV is a staple of American culture, but for the sake of my right to choose, as well as for the sake of my sanity, I’m saying, “No!” at least for a day. (I can’t guarantee that I won’t sneak in a half hour of Say Yes to the Dress, but c’mon, there are wedding gowns involved.)

Lucky us, as Americans, we also have the right to dress in whatever manner we choose, unlike people in more repressed societies. But just because we can wear whatever we want doesn’t mean we should. This means you, way past middle-aged man in the tiny Speedo who struts up and down the beach in Ocean City hoisting your hand weights. Sadly, it also means those of the fairer sex who insist on dressing like twenty-year-olds when we’re…well, let’s just say not twenty.

Therefore, this July 4th, I will choose not to wear a bikini to the beach, thus sparing small children, and my own, grown-up children, the horror. There’s just too much no one needs to see. Ditto the short shorts. I will not wear a pair of shorts unless I can count to at least two when pulling up the zipper.

And, I will not give the world a peek-a-boo view of my undies, panty lines, bra straps and whatever else qualifies as an under garment. It’s called underwear for a reason, folks. Fair warning—should I happen across any young men wearing their pants around their butt cheeks on July 4th, I may choose to exercise my right to tell you that you look like an idiot. Although it is your right to do so.

As an American, I am fortunate to live in a country blessed with an abundance of technology. Almost daily, it seems some new gadget is introduced to make our lives easier, provide us with more information faster, or simply entertain us at every possible opportunity, ensuring that we are never, ever unplugged for a single moment. Which does not make life easier. Or less stressful. It just makes it noisier.

This Independence Day, I will choose not to turn on my laptop, or my tablet. I’d like to say I’ll choose not to turn on my phone, but let’s be serious. However, I promise to use it only for phone calls, and then only if necessary. Instead, I’ll choose to literally go fly a kite, or take a bike ride, or bring a book to the beach. You remember books, don’t you?

Finally, as an American, I am free to complain or whine continuously about anything and everything, from the government, to the price of gasoline, to my spotty cell phone service, to the long lines at the grocery store and the disappearance of every single hot dog roll from the shelves. (I knew I should have picked those up last week.)

But this Independence Day, I’ll choose not to look for reasons to be offended and annoyed and instead remember how lucky I am to live in a country where I can make fun of the President and not have my tongue cut off. (And when my self-imposed technology ban is over, I’ll look up You Tube videos that make fun of everybody. Just because I can.)

So be grateful this Independence day, for the freedom to do whatever you want. I am. And I’ll be thanking God that even though I live in a country where I can act like a complete nitwit whenever I choose, I can also choose not to.

Happy Independence Day!