There may or may not be many chestnuts roasting on open fires across southwest Kansas, or bells ringing on bobbed tails, but it's obvious that the holidays have arrived.

Lights are glowing from houses and storefronts, evergreens have sprouted in lobbies and living rooms, and lyrics about everything from decking the halls to shopping in malls are playing on iPods and stereo systems.

It's also that time of year on the Garden City Community College campus, with ornaments appearing in foyers, rooms and offices, snowman and Santa Claus sweaters showing up in classrooms, and students turning their thoughts toward things like final exams and trips home to see the family.

The community's college probably isn't the first place that comes to mind for most people in terms of celebrating the holidays, of course, but for anyone interested in unwrapping everything the season has to offer, GCCC plays a surprisingly prominent role.

Programs, performances

Over the next 12 days of December, for example, you can count on a half-dozen public programs, opportunities and performances. You may not find any maids a milking, lords a leaping nor swans a swimming, but you can certainly mark your calendar now for all of the following:

* The GCCC Art Faculty Exhibition, opening Saturday in Mercer Gallery and featuring a public reception from to 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 16. The gallery is located in the west wing of the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Building and admission is free. Viewing is available 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

* Tuba Christmas, 3 p.m. Saturday on Grant Avenue in downtown Garden City, sponsored by Commerce Bank and led by Dr. Jim McAllister, GCCC band director.

* The GCCC Potter's Guild Holiday Art Sale, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 13 in the lobby of the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Building, offering hand-made ceramics and sculpture by GCCC art students and established southwest Kansas artists.

* The 2012 Winter Instrumental Music Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in the auditorium of the fine arts building, featuring classic, contemporary and seasonal selections by the GCCC Concert Band and the GCCC Jazz Ensemble.

* The Vespers Concert, 3 p.m. Dec. 16 in the fine arts auditorium, one of the longest-running holiday traditions in southwest Kansas, featuring classic and contemporary seasonal selections by the College Concert Choir, the select College Singers ensemble and the GCCC Strings, along with additional musicians from the community.

Art reception, Vespers

The best time to see the art faculty exhibition is during the reception on Dec. 16, since you'll get a chance to visit with Brian McCallum and Kyle Chaput, our two full-time art instructors, who have created a collection of new shapes and images for the show. Their work will stay on display Saturday through Dec. 20 and Jan. 14 through 26, and the reception will lead up to that afternoon's Vespers Concert.

The concert, conducted by Choral Music Director J. Clayton Wright, has taken place annually at GCCC for decades. This year's program will include "God Bless Us Everyone," from Disney's A Christmas Carol, Joseph M. Martin's "The Awakening" and Cantata Number 142 by J.S. Bach, "For Unto Us A Child is Born." In addition to that trio of combined community and campus choir and instrumental numbers, there will be nine collegiate choir and ensemble selections.

Concerts, ceramics

Tuba Christmas, scheduled to precede Garden City's annual evening holiday parade, is conducted each year as part of a series of tuba and euphonium performances throughout the state and nation. Listeners who gather outdoors on Grant Avenue will hear carols like "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings," played entirely by volunteer musicians from throughout southwest Kansas.

The potter's guild sale includes hundreds of vases, jugs, pots, plates, cups, bowls, platters, plaques and other one-of-a-kind objects formed and fired in the GCCC ceramic art studio by artists from beginning to highly advanced levels. Most will be available in a price range of $5 to $50, providing a chance to do a little gift shopping for items that can be found nowhere else.

The winter concert the evening of the art sale, also led by our campus band director, will blend traditional instrumental literature with selections of the season. The musicians in the full band, as well as the audition-only jazz ensemble, include talented young men and women from many area communities.

So come on out and share the holidays at GCCC. You just might hear a little jingle bell rock, or even find a few stars of wonder.