Was it the dawn of an enduring new season of cooperation, or a brief winter flurry of mutual capitulation?

Either way, the lame-duck session of Congress that wrapped up last week featured a surprising explosion of legislative activity that almost no one could have envisioned after the November elections saw Republicans seize control of the House of Representatives and strengthen their hand in the Senate.

Most expert political observers and just plain folks who pay attention to politics understandably assumed that the post-election deliberations of the outgoing Congress would produce little in the way of legislation.

Instead, the probable outcome was that the lame ducks might serve merely to set the stage for an enduring new season of gridlock.

Go figure.

“If there’s any lesson to draw from these past few weeks,” President Obama said during a news conference, “it’s that we’re not doomed to endless gridlock.” The president described the closing weeks of the congressional session as a “season of progress.”

Well, maybe. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina offered a different description: “a capitulation of dramatic proportions.”

Whatever you call it, the session had dramatic results: an extension of Bush-era tax rates; repeal of the policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military; approval of a controversial arms-control treaty with Russia; passage of health-care assistance for 9/11 first responders; a new food safety law.

The lame ducks were very busy.

Busier than they needed to be, in our view. The legislative process — and the country — might have been better served if some of the bills had been put aside and taken up when the new Congress convenes in January.

The New START treaty, for example, deserved far more discussion and debate than it got. But that’s water under the bridge. The question now: What happens next?

Here’s an idea: How about a session of Congress marked by careful consideration of legislative initiatives and meaningful compromise between Republicans and Democrats?

Call it a season of serious governing.