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Gratitude, appreciation, giving thanks. No matter what words you use, they all mean the same thing. Happy. We're supposed to be happy. Grateful for friends, family. Happy just to be alive. Whether we like it or not. Maybe we're not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we're thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we're thankful for the things we'll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.

Thanks for the Memories is the ninth episode of the second season and the 18th overall episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Short Summary[]

None of the doctors can resist cutting as Izzie tries embrace the season by making a perfect thanksgiving dinner but doesn't know how, however Burke saves the day and helps her, while Cristina, Meredith, and Alex hide at work instead of helping Izzie; and George has to embrace his own O'Malley tradition by shooting a turkey.

Full Summary[]

Izzie gathers cookbooks in the kitchen and starts reading.

Meredith sneaks down the stairs. She tries to sneak out but Izzie catches her right before she reaches the front door. Izzie reminds her they were all supposed to get together at 9 A.M. to help her make Thanksgiving dinner. Meredith is not in the mood. She goes to answer the door. Three men ask for "Georgie". They enter and head upstairs while chanting his last name. Using them as a distraction, Meredith rushes out the door with Izzie yelling after her.

George counts down before the men burst into his room, wishing him a happy Thanksgiving.

Addison and Derek are on the ferry to work. She proposes sex tonight, which makes him scoff. She admits it'll be weird since it will be the first time since Mark and Meredith. She has the day off while he wants to go check on some patients. She made a reservation at noon. She wants to rip the stitches. He thinks it over.

Bailey finds Meredith in the locker room and tells her they are working with a temp attending, dr. Kent, from Mercy West. She thanks Meredith for volunteering to work today. Meredith doesn't have a lot to be thankful for. As they head to the ER, Bailey says she likes the holiday because the family gatherings lead to people getting hurt and lots of cool surgeries. She appreciates the stupidity of the human race.

Derek, Burke, and Richard gather in front of the OR board. Burke likes to start his day cutting. He finished a surgery in under an hour so now he's leaving. Richard and Derek both claim they are only there for a little while. He doesn't buy it. Richard tries to convince Derek he knows how to have a life outside the hospital.

Bailey and Meredith approach Kent. Bailey goes to tell him she's happy to help him out but he snaps that he does not need his ass kissed. He just needs for them to do as he says. He doesn't like mistakes. Kent only wants the Nazi in his OR, whom he's heard has balls the size of Texas. Bailey pretends not to know him but she'll keep an eye out. Kent tells her to work smaller cases and page him if she gets confused. "The stupidity of the human race," Bailey tells Meredith as she watches Kent go.

George's father and his two brothers lead him out of the house, much to Izzie's dismay. George explains their family's tradition to go turkey hunting. This is the year George will kill his first bird. Izzie wonders who is going to help her but George points out he is in need of help, too, as his brother literally drags him out the door.

Olivia tells Meredith and Bailey about Holden McKee, who was brought in from Mayfield nursing home. He fell into a persistent vegetative state sixteen years ago while on the job as a firefighter. He fell from his bed while being turned by the orderlies. Meredith plans on getting a CT to rule out injuries. Bailey leaves her to stitch up the head lac. Meredith wishes she had a serenity like Holden's. As she explores the lac, Holden suddenly opens his eyes.

Meredith goes to fetch Bailey in a trauma room, where she is working on a guy with extensive burns. The room mocks her for thinking the guy was looking at her. Kent comes in to check. Bailey hides her case from him and tells him there are 13 people awaiting sutures. She claims the Nazi ordered Meredith to take a VIP patient up to CT. Bailey tells Meredith to get a neuro consult but insists Holden wasn't looking at her.

Burke and Cristina ring the bell at Meredith's. Cristina warns him not to bring up Derek and Addison. Burke knows how to handle social situations. Izzie opens the door and is shocked to see that Cristina brought Burke. Cristina quietly tells Izzie she tried to blow him off. Burke tells Izzie he can call her Preston since he showed up uninvited. Izzie informs Cristina where the others are. Izzie tries to reach Alex. Burke smells something burning.

Derek is ready to go meet Addison as Meredith comes up. Richard is reluctant to go since Adele's sister is there. Derek says the OR board needs to be checked one more time. Richard agrees, and goes off to check. Meredith hands Derek the chart with the CT report and tells him what happened. Derek says certain reflexes are preserved. Meredith insists he was actually looking at her.

While out in the woods, George's family keep naming cars. George suggests they go buy a turkey. Harold, his father, insists George shoot the turkey today as he refuses to do so every year.

Izzie tries to reach Alex again. Burke figures out that Izzie has never made a Thanksgiving dinner. She says she's a baker. Burke jumps in to help her out. As they begin cooking mimicking a surgical procedure, Cristina says she needs lots of liquor.

Derek is examining Holden but he concludes there is no way he was looking at Meredith. Meredith says he just did it again, but he won't follow Derek's light. His other commands lead to no response. However, as soon as Meredith starts talking, Derek notices Holden is tracking her with his eyes.

Derek looks at the scans. He says this would explain why there is no atrophy. He's not in a vegetative state, he is minimally conscious. No one ever noticed, which happens in regular nursing homes. Derek says they might be able to wake him up.

Alex is listening to Izzie's voice mail message while studying in the tunnels. He doesn't return her call.

Cristina is on the phone with George, begging him to come home and save her. He is in a terrible situation himself. Cristina is shocked to find out that the house is out of liquor. George asks Cristina to come get him but she has hung up on him.

Addison is waiting for Derek. She leaves him a voice mail.

Derek ignores the message as he and Meredith approach the waiting room. Without any information, Meredith is able to single out which woman is Holden's ex-wife. Cheryl has remarried and is pregnant.

Back in Holden's room, Derek informs Cheryl, her husband Hal and Holden's son Coby on what is going on. They have administered a course of amphetamine to give Holden's brain the push it needs to find consciousness. Derek expects that will happen within a few hours. Coby asks if he will be aware. Derek says must patients have no idea how much time has passed. Coby leaves the room. Cheryl says this is unimaginable. Cheryl says Holden can't see her or Coby like this. Hal explains it took her a long time to move on. The three leave the room.

Kent finds Bailey scrubbing in and tells her to go back to the pit, which is backed up with people needing sutures. Bailey says the Nazi put her on this surgery.

Bailey gets gowned and gloved to take a knife out of a man's back. Richard is observing her. He claims he wanted to watch a little bit before heading home. Bailey warns him not to stay too long or Adele might stab him like her patient's wife has done.

Cristina lets Joe and his boyfriend Walter into the house. She is disappointed to hear he only brought pie, no liquor.

As George uses a device to mimic the sound of turkeys, his father urges him to pick a car. His brothers pick on him for not knowing anything about cars. Harold defends him and states he must be tired from working at the hospital. His brothers question what he does but George stays vague because he thinks they won't get it. Beaming with pride, his father urges him to tell his brothers what it's like. He starts talking about the surgery he scrubbed in on yesterday but his brothers immediately mock him for only having assisted. He explains what interns do and that he has to be on top of his game all the time. His brothers only take away that he just stands there watching the real doctors work. Harold punches Jerry and Ronny.

Alex sits down with Meredith on the floor in Holden's room. They each wonder why the other isn't at Thanksgiving. Meredith goes first. She feels too miserable to be around normal people, like she'll infect the happy people. Alex says he failed the medical boards. Izzie will be all supportive, which make him feel like he's being emasculated. Meredith says he should go, even if he's not telling her about the boards. They both feel a little bit better now. After Alex is gone, Holden starts calling out for someone.

Derek tells Holden that it is remarkable that his communication skills are still intact. Holden asks about his wife and if she knows what happened. He asks how long he has been out. He guesses a year. He wants Meredith to tell him since she is the one who found him. He wants her to rip off the bandage. Derek leaves her to it. Holden breaks down as she tells him the truth.

Burke is coaching Izzie as she cuts the celery. He reminds her to check the turkey with the meat thermometer. Walter and Joe place bets on if she's going to pull it off. Cristina has had enough of them operating on a turkey. She leaves to go get liquor. Burke follows her into the hallway. She is not enjoying his making friends with her friends. She asks for his keys and leaves. He goes back to his surgery.

The O'Malleys engage in some more car talk as they wait for a turkey. Soon, a turkey appears. Jerry aims but George stops him. Since they are not leaving until he's shot a turkey, he is taking the shot. He aims. Fed up with his brothers predicting he won't do it, he actually shoots the bird. George is excited to go home.

As she prepares him for an MRI, Holden asks Meredith about his son. Meredith describes him physically. Meredith tells Holden he's one for the books.

Meredith joins Derek in the control room. The scan reveals an epidural hematoma.

Derek and Meredith inform Holden on their finding. Derek says he can operate although it won't be easy. Best case, the bleeding resolves itself, but it could also lead to his brain swelling and death, which is most likely. Holden asks Meredith what she would do, but she can't answer.

Izzie and Burke have found their rhythm as a cooking team. Izzie asks where he learned to cook. He says his mother owns a restaurant in Alabama. Izzie guesses Cristina doesn't know that. They agree she is hard to get to know. Preston asks if she's okay with Alex not showing. She is not. Joe comes in to ask for liquor, which makes Izzie realize that Cristina has been gone for a suspiciously long time.

Cristina is in the ER. She fetches a man who has swallowed a wish bone from the waiting room. She hopes he has torn his oesophagus, which means surgery.

George has loaded up the car. He urges his family to hurry up. Harold "bloods" George's face with turkey blood. He is now officially an O'Malley man. His brothers cheer. Harold realizes he forgot his hat and goes back to grab it. Jerry and Ronny decide to fire off a gun salute for their brother, but they end up shooting their father in the ass. George yells at his brothers.

George finds his brothers playing around in the trauma room where their father is waiting to be treated. George instructs them to put everything down and goes to numb the area. His brothers start talking cars again. George refuses to pick a car again. Jerry mocks him again. Fed up, George tells them how the car debate always goes. He's had enough of it so he just names the final car. Also, his name is not Georgie. He leaves the room.

Derek is surprised to see Coby in Holden's room. Coby comes out and tells Meredith and Derek he doesn't see the resemblance to his father. Meredith goes to check on Holden, who says Cody said he's coming back soon. Holden found out about Cheryl's marriage. Holden has decided to go ahead with the surgery. His family has moved on so he should, too. Holden asks if Coby is really coming back. She hopes so.

Izzie tells Burke that Walter and Joe have set up the table. The turkey needs a few more hours. Burke wonders why she planned this dinner if she can't cook. She likes Thanksgiving. She says they work 18-hour shifts six days out of the week, 50 weeks a year. They don't have time for family or non-doctor friends. Thanksgiving is when they get to be like other people, where nobody dies on their watch. She wants to appreciate that day.

Bailey and Cristina have extracted the wishbone in the OR. Cristina asks Bailey why she is working. She likes the extra practice. She wants to get in all the practice that she can before the baby comes and she has to take time off. Her husband isn't thrilled but he doesn't get what it's like to be a surgeon. Bailey checks if Cristina is spending the day with Burke. Bailey says he would have made a good father.

Holden is wheeled into the OR. Derek joins Meredith in the doorway. Meredith can't scrub in as there aren't enough interns left to man the floor. She asks Derek if he would opt for the surgery. He knows she would. Derek doesn't know what he would want. She knows. He invites her to scrub in when she has time later.

George returns to his father. His brothers went to the cafeteria. Harold knows George didn't have fun today. George admits that he didn't. Harold says he hurt his brothers' feelings. George hates them treating him like he's stupid and not one of them. Harold says that is because he is not one of them. And George makes sure they know it. George makes Harold proud, but he and his sons try to include George. They don't know how to talk about the things he likes. However, they never treat him like he's stupid. It's the other way around. They might be stupid but they are his family. George should give them an inch and pick a car every once in a while. George tells his father about the heart-on-the-elevator surgery.

Meredith is scrubbing in for Holden's surgery. As she looks up, she sees how Derek and his team have just given up on CPR.

Wrecked, they find Coby in the waiting area. Derek walks up to him.

George, Cristina, and Meredith are shocked to see one another in the locker room. They realize they are in a lot of trouble.

Izzie and Burke are sitting by themselves at a decorated table. Joe and Walter have to leave to go open the bar. People need a safe haven from their families. Burke refuses to leave until the hostess does. Cristina and George come in and sit down. George tells Izzie he committed bird murder and touched his father's ass, so he gets points for showing up at all. Cristina shows the booze she brought. Izzie decides not to get mad. They start eating.

Derek and Meredith are sitting on a bench outside. He wonders how she knew that Cheryl was Holden's wife. She was the only one who looked like she had completely given up. As he starts walking off, Meredith asks if he loves Addison. He sits back down and says he doesn't know. She thinks it's good that he's trying. That's what makes him him. It also means she was right about him. She stands up and tells him goodbye. He reciprocates and watches her walk away.

Meredith watches the others from outside. Alex shows up and asks her if she's heading in. She's not. She tells him to go inside and make Izzie happy. He enters and Izzie's face lights up.

Bailey finds Richard and yells at him to go home. He wants to go watch the Whipple in OR 2. She again tells him to go home. She gets on the elevator as Kent gets off and Richard yells after her that this sort of treatment is why people call her the Nazi. Kent is shocked. Bailey tells him happy Thanksgiving.

Burke and Cristina are in the car. She noticed that he was nice. He brings up that she doesn't ask a lot of personal questions and that she is hard to get to know. She agrees. He tells her about his mother's restaurant. In return, she tells him that she scrubbed in a foreign body extraction this afternoon. He smiles and starts the car.

Derek finds Addison waiting for him at the trailer. She waited for him to show. She asks him if he's done hurting her back. If not, she has to special order a thicker skin. Derek sits down beside her. He leans in and kisses her. He's ready to rip off the stitches.

At Joe's, a man asks Meredith if the seat next to hers is taken. After verifying that he doesn't work at the hospital or is a doctor of any kind, she tells him the seat isn't taken. She's open to letting him buy her a drink.


Main Cast[]

Special Guest Star[]

Guest Stars[]



Medical Notes[]

Holden McKee[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Minimal consciousness
    • Temporal parietal scalp laceration
    • Epidural hematoma
  • Treatment:
    • Residential care
    • Stitches
    • Amphetamines
    • Surgery

Holden was a firefighter who was injured by falling debris and was believed to be in a persistent vegetative state. He was in residential care. He fell from his bed and his insurance required him to get checked out at the hospital before he could go back. He had a scalp laceration, which they stitched up and they also ran a CT. While he was at the hospital, he opened his eyes and tracked Meredith's voice. Derek determined that he wasn't PVS. He was minimally conscious. Derek believed they might be able to wake him up. They administered amphetamines to give his brain a push. He woke up soon afterward, but still had minimal mobility due to muscle atrophy. An MRI revealed an epidural hematoma. They operated to try to fix the bleed, but he died during the surgery.

Burke's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Atrial fibrillation
  • Treatment:
    • Maze procedure

Burke did a Maze procedure, which he called his best ever. He performed the surgery in under an hour.

Bailey's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Third-degree burns
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery

Bailey treated a patient with third-degree burns over half his body, which he sustained while trying to deep fry a turkey.

Bailey's Other Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Stab wound
  • Treatment:
    • Surgical extraction

Bailey operated to remove a knife from a man who had been stabbed by his wife.

George's Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Treatment:
    • Truncal vagotomy

George tried to tell his brothers about a surgery he assisted on.

Levi Johnson[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Foreign body in esophagus
  • Treatment:
    • Foreign body removal

Cristina treated Levi, who had swallowed a wishbone. He needed surgery to remove it.

Harold O'Malley[]

  • Diagnosis:
    • Gun shot wound
  • Treatment:
    • Debridement

Harold was shot in the butt by one of his sons. George took him to the hospital to remove the birdshot.

Unseen Patient[]

  • Diagnosis:
  • Doctors:
  • Treatment:
    • Whipple

Richard mentioned a Whipple happening when he was meant to be going home.


Song Performer Scene
"Nu Nu (Yeah Yeah)" Fannypack
  • Izzie is preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Meredith tries to sneak out of the house.
"New Song (From Me to You)" Dressy Bessy
  • Alex gets a voice mail from Izzie as he tries to study.
  • Cristina calls George to ask where they keep the liquor.
  • George wants Cristina to come get him.
  • Addison calls Derek.
"Too Hard" Mark McAdam
  • Alex tells Meredith he failed the medical boards.
  • She helps him feel better.
"Dance" The O.A.O.Ts
  • Burke and Izzie perform surgery on the turkey and Joe and his boyfriend make bets.
  • Cristina leaves in frustration to get liquor.
  • Burke goes back to help Izzie.
  • George's family talks about cars.
"Serenade" Emilíana Torrini
  • Izzie goes to set the table.
  • Bailey and Cristina operate on the patient who swallowed the wishbone and talk about Burke.
  • Dr. Kent comes looking for the Nazi and Bailey sends him to the pit.
  • Holden is prepared for surgery.
  • Derek and Meredith talk.
  • George comes back into his dad's room.
"Not Going Anywhere" Keren Ann
  • George tells his dad about how he saved the man's life in the elevator.
  • Mr. McKee dies as Meredith starts to scrub in.
  • Derek tells Coby about his father's death.
"Sad Eyes" Josh Rouse
  • Meredith and Derek say goodbye.
  • Meredith watches from outside as they enjoy Thanksgiving in her house.
  • Alex comes up and Meredith sends him inside to Izzie.
  • Bailey tells Richard to go home.
  • Dr. Kent overhears Richard call her the Nazi.
  • Burke tells Cristina about himself and she tells him about the surgery she helped with.
  • Derek goes to the trailer, where Addison is waiting on the step.
  • Addison asks if Derek's done hurting her yet.
  • Meredith is sitting at the bar when a man sits down next to her. She lets him sit down and buy her a drink.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • This episode's title originated from the song Thanks For the Memories, originally sung by Bob Hope.
  • This episode scored 20.33 million viewers.
  • The season 2 DVD set includes an extended version of this episode as well as an audio commentary by writer Shonda Rhimes and editor Susan Vaill.
  • The dialog between Burke and Izzie when they are cooking dinner is almost exactly the same as George's appendectomy in the pilot. It even had the same background music.
  • This is the first Grey's episode to not open with the theme song.


Episode Stills[]


Cristina: Where does Meredith keep the booze?
George: I don't think she has any.
Cristina: How is that possible? She's a WASP. Liquor is like oxygen to a WASP.
George: Which is why we're out of liquor.

Cristina: (about inviting Burke to the Thanksgiving dinner) What was I supposed to do? Blow off my boyfriend for Thanksgiving? I tried to. He wouldn't blow. He's like something sticky that won't blow off.

Joe: Hey, this is my boyfriend Walter.
Cristina: Whatever. Tell me you brought liquor.
Joe: I brought pie. Pumpkin.
Cristina: You're a bartender!
Joe: Did you bring scalpels?

Bailey: I like Thanksgiving. Day people spend with their families. Too much family time triggers depression, repressed childhood rage, bitter disputes over the remote and way too much alcohol. People get stupid. People get violent. People get hurt.
Meredith: And that's a good thing because?
Bailey: Surgeries, Grey! Lots and lots of surgeries.

Harold: George, Jerry is a dry cleaner. Ronny works in a post office. I drive a truck. You're a surgeon. You're not one of us. I know it and they know it. You make sure we know it.
George: Dad.
Harold: I'm, I'm not blaming you. It makes me proud that you're so smart. Like I did something right. It's just... We try! We try to include you but, you don't like the stuff that we like. And we don't know how to talk about the stuff that you want to talk about. You're not one of us but, damn it we don't treat you like you're stupid. You treat us like we're stupid. And maybe we are but we're your family. Give us an inch, Georgie. Every once in a while, pick a car.

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.