After sailing through weeks of holiday cheer, we’ve chugged straight into that awkward phase of winter when the Christmas lights remain hung but not shining, the presents have been carted home but not forgotten, and the tree still lurks in its corner, unlit but not yet de-tinseled. The children are back in school, wearing clothes so new they bear the creases from their time in boxes beneath the tree. Across the street the blowup Santa that leered at us all December has deflated into a puddle of red and white plastic, spreading over the winter-brown grass.

Each year during this in-between-time after the festivities, and before the drudgery of winter and fulfilling resolutions and packing up the Christmas boxes for another ten months in storage have set in, I vow to appreciate Christmas even more the next time around. I promise myself to begin the carol blitz sooner, to write more cards, to really revel in the celebrations.

But after several successive seasons of diving into the holidays ever-earlier, so that by December first I want to hide in my house with the radio off lest I hear another droning version of “My Favorite Things” (which, come on, is not a Christmas song), I am making a new vow: from now on I will take the holidays as they come. The end will always seem abrupt and the detritus left afterward — those plastic Santas on the lawn, the unlit bulbs, the drooping trees — will always seem sad. I will relax more, and afterward I will shun the post-Christmas letdown, instead thinking of the joyous times spent with family and friends over the previous weeks and looking forward to the coming spring.

And that, six days late, is the only resolution I made this year.