Grey's Anatomy Universe Wiki

It's an urban myth that suicide rates spike at the holidays. Turns out they actually go down. Experts think it's because people are less inclined to off themselves when surrounded by family. Ironically, that same family togetherness is thought to be the reason that depression rates actually do spike at the holidays. Yeah, okay. Izzie doesn't count. There's an old proverb that says you can't choose your family. You take what the fates hand you. And like them or not, love them or not, understand them or not, you cope. Then there's the school of thought that says the family you're born into is simply a starting point. They feed you, and clothe you, and take care of you until you're ready to go out into the world and find your tribe.

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer is the twelfth episode and mid-season finale of the second season and the 21st overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

Tis the season to be jolly, as Burke and Cristina's religious differences are highlighted when they treat a boy who is refusing a heart transplant, while Derek has little religious problems with his patients of mixed Jewish and Christian family beginning for Chrismukkah while he feels less than festive, while Alex has problems with his own faith in himself as the rest of the interns try to help him study for his exam.

Full Summary[]

Episode in detail.


Main Cast[]

Guest Stars[]



Medical Notes[]

Tim Epstein[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Subdural hematoma
    • Intercerebral bleed
  • Treatment:
    • Craniotomy

Tim, 38, fell off his roof while hanging decorations and hit his head. He had focal left arm weakness. He was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma. After his surgery, he had significant changes to his personality. Another scan revealed another bleed, so he was taken back into surgery to stop it.

Nadia Shelton[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Gastric ulcer
    • Perforated ulcer
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Nadia, 41, was in the hospital for excision of her gastric ulcer. Her surgery kept being pushed because of emergencies. She said she'd had three bleeding ulcers in the last five years. Eventually, she started vomiting up blood, which made her case emergent, and she was taken into surgery. When they opened her up, they discovered that she actually had two ulcers.

Justin Davidson[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Heart failure
    • Cardiac arrest
  • Treatment:
    • Heart transplant
    • Resuscitation

Justin had received a heart transplant as an infant, but had worn it out and needed another one, for which he had been waiting two years. The heart was transplanted successfully, but he struggled after the surgery. He went into cardiac arrest, but they were able to resuscitate him quickly. He eventually started to come back around.

ER Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Gastric perforation
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

A man, 44, came in with a gastric rupture from eating fruitcake after gastric bypass surgery. He was taken into surgery to fix the damage. After his surgery, he wasn't left with much of his stomach.

ER Patient 2[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Strangulated hernia
  • Treatment:

A man was brought in with a hernia he got trying to gift wrap a large TV. They had to use mesh to close the gap.


Song Performer Scene
"The Christmas Song" Nat King Cole
  • Izzie has the house decorated for Christmas. Meredith tells George to be supportive.
  • Cristina sees Burke's Christmas tree.
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" Lou Rawls
  • Burke tells Justin there's a heart for him.
  • Justin says he doesn't want it.
"This Christmastime" Mascott & Dave Derby
  • Justin maintains that he doesn't want the heart.
  • Richard looks at the OR board. Patricia comes and tells him Adele called.
  • Richard asks Bailey to cover a surgery for him.
  • Alex concedes a patient to Meredith.
  • Addison talks to Derek about Christmas presents for his family.
  • Izzie comes to get Derek.
"Back Door Santa" Jet
  • Nadia's family argues when they learn her surgery is being pushed again.
  • Cristina coaches Alex on how to do a breast exam.
  • George walks in and Cristina explains what they're doing.
  • Cristina gets paged away, so George takes over.
"Christmas After All" Maria Taylor
  • Izzie tells Derek she believes his distaste for the holiday affected their patient somehow.
  • Marion puts up a tree in Justin's room. Cristina comes in and says it's not allowed.
  • Cristina and Marion talk about Justin's lack of belief in Santa.
  • Justin wakes up.
  • Cristina takes the tree out of the room, citing CCU regulations.
  • Bailey is operating on her patient.
"Here Comes Your Ride" Holidays on Ice
  • Derek tells the Epsteins Tim needs another surgery.
  • In the hallway, Jillian tells Derek how worrying Tim's change in behavior is.
  • Father Michael talks to Justin about his new heart and where it came from.
  • Justin starts coding, but Cristina is able to restore sinus rhythm.
"Latke Clan" The LeeVees
  • Derek requests holiday music while operating.
  • Bailey is working on Nadia.
  • Bailey's baby starts kicking.
  • Izzie finds Alex sleeping on a gurney.
"Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming" Catie Curtis
  • Cristina talks to Justin about her belief in medicine.
  • She tells him he should decide to live.
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" Sixpence None the Richer
  • Izzie cries in front of Alex.
  • Bailey sleeps on a gurney.
  • Derek and Meredith talk as they walk out of the hospital.
  • Derek arrives at the bar and Joe pours him a drink.
  • Addison is waiting at a table for Derek.
  • Derek confesses that Meredith wasn't a fling. He fell in love with her.
  • Cristina sees that Burke decorated the tree and bought a menorah.
  • She climbs into bed with him and tells him Justin is improving.
  • Izzie lies under the Christmas tree. Meredith, George, and Doc join her.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, originally sung by Elmo and Patsy.
  • This episode scored 15.70 million viewers.
  • At the end when Cristina returns to Burke's apartment and sees the Christmas tree and the Menorah, Burke is seen reading "Exploring Judaism" in bed.
  • When Derek talks to Addison in the middle of the episode, he puts his headphones in his pockets. When he stands up, they are hanging around his neck again.
  • This was the episode submitted for Sandra Oh's bid to win 'Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series' at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards.
  • The season 2 DVD set includes an audio commentary for this episode by Sandra Oh and director Peter Horton.


Episode Stills[]


(Bailey, who is pregnant, is rubbing her stomach and has labored breaths as she walks through the halls of the hospital. The interns are talking as they follow her)
George: Look at her belly. She's almost as wide as she is tall.
Meredith: Are her ankles swollen? Is that why she's waddling?
Izzie: What's gonna happen to us when she goes on leave?
Cristina: She's going on leave?
Meredith: What do you think happens when people push babies out of their vagina?
(George laughs)
George: Do you think we're going to get a new resident?
Alex: Nah. They'll probably just let us wander around unattended. See how much damage we can do.
Izzie: Yeah, well, you would know.

Izzie: Hey, guys, we should all get together and get Bailey a Christmas gift for the baby, or we could, um, organize some sort of Secret Santa thing!
Cristina: Okay, listen Tiny Tim, you can take your...
(George and Meredith move in next to each other to block Cristina from Izzie)
George: Sounds great.
Meredith: Secret Santa sounds great, Izzie.

George: Looks like Santa Claus threw up in here.

Bailey: You see this, O'Malley? I make one mistake with this scalpel and this man's dead. My husband, he makes mistakes at his job all the time. As far as I know he's never killed anyone but I have and you will and Alex did. He made a math mistake and a man died for it. Run that past your accountant. See how he'd feel if every mistake he made, someone ended up dead. You don't have to like Alex, you don't have to care about him, but you damn well have to be on his side.

Cristina: (sees Alex examining Meredith) Okay, seriously, if you're that lonely there are excellent vibrators. I can give you a catalogue.

Meredith: He failed his medical boards. I'm helping him study.
Cristina: You failed your practical?
Alex: Glad to know you can keep a secret, Grey.
Meredith: I kept your secret, it didn't do you any good. He needs our help.
Cristina: Oh, you're not serious.
Meredith: What if it were you?
Cristina: It wouldn't be.
Meredith: But what if it were?
Cristina: It wouldn't be.

Cristina: I'm a 55 year old man. I'm nauseous and I can't stop throwing up.
Alex: Forget it all right, I didn't ask for anybody's help.
Cristina: Okay, Evil Spawn, you can nurse your pride, key word being nurse, or you can pass your test and be a doctor. Up to you.
Alex: Any abdominal pain?
Cristina: Yes, from my giant fat belly all the way to my back. Oh, and I'm drunk. Hiccup, hiccup.

Izzie: He cheated on me with George's skanky syph nurse!
George: That is just plain rude!
Meredith: We know! He cheated on you! That's why we let you turn the living room into Santa's freaking Village.
Izzie: What?
Meredith: We're not big on holidays you know that. But we're trying to be supportive because you are having a hard time. But right now, Alex, he's having a harder time.
Izzie: Why does everyone care what kinda time Alex is having?
Meredith: Because he's dirty Uncle Sal.
George: Sorry?
Cristina: Huh?
Meredith: He's dirty Uncle Sal. The one who embarrasses everyone at family reunions and who can't be left alone with the teenage girls but you invite him to the picnic anyway.
Cristina: Sorry. What?
George: I'm still lost.
Meredith: I have a mother who doesn't recognize me. As far as family goes, this hospital, you guys are it. So, I know you're pissed at Alex but maybe you could try and help him anyway. Sorta like in the spirit of this holiday you keep shoving down everybody's throats.

Bailey: Do not kick me.
George: Excuse me?
Bailey: Are you kicking me under the table, O'Malley?
George: No!
Bailey: Then clearly I wasn't talking to you!

Alex: Why would you want to help me after what I did?
Izzie: Because it's what Jesus would freaking do!

Addison: Christmas, Derek. We love Christmas. At least we used to.
Derek: Yeah. Christmas makes you want to be with people you love. I'm not saying this to hurt you or because I want to leave you. Because I don't. Meredith wasn't a fling. She wasn't revenge. I fell in love with her. That doesn't go away because I decided to stay with you.

See Also[]

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.

The Grey Matter blog post on this episode can be found here.