Here and There: Elf shenanigans and a poinsettia tree gone viral

Elves on the shelves are not only entertaining pediatric patients but also a Mayo physician this holiday season. One of Mayo’s poinsettia trees in Rochester has gone viral.

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Elf creates the 'happiest place' on Gonda 12

Elves on the shelf are having their annual moment this month. While their secret shenanigans are typically focused on kids, one special elf at Mayo Clinic in Rochester has been on a five-year assignment to entertain Michael D. Olson, M.D., Otorhinolaryngology.

This year, Ori — whose full name is Orthog Nathic, as in orthognathic surgery — is on a mission to turn Dr. Olson’s office on Gonda 12 into a Disney-themed shrine. Well aware that Dr. Olson is a huge Disney fan, Ori and his collaborators (Hawa Ali, M.D., Sophia Ie, Jennifer Martin, Elizabeth Nibbe and Ashley Robards) are adding magic to Dr. Olson’s office before he arrives in the morning or when he is in the operating room.

So far this year, they’ve decorated his office door with Mickey Mouse silhouettes.

And Ori added a light-up tree with a Mickey Mouse train chugging around the bottom. The sneaky elf has also taken over the hallway, adding Mickey Mouse-shaped gingerbread cutouts and even the fairy godmother with a long paper chain reaching from the residents’ office to Dr. Olson’s office.

“Having Ori the elf visit me during the holiday season has been an incredible blessing and something I look forward to every year,” Dr. Olson says. “Walking down the hallway to my office in the morning isn’t typically the most exciting part of my day. However, when Ori’s around, it’s hard not to get excited for what awaits me when I open my office door.”

On occasion, Ori even follows Dr. Olson to the operating room.

“The OR staff have gotten in on it and gave Ori a white surgical coat,” Martin says. “We also include a little story each time or a question or two.”

Dr. Olson says he is fortunate to be part of such a creative and joyous team.

“They go to great lengths developing Ori’s shenanigans. From their work on the departmental Joy Committee to their efforts with the holiday office decorations, they exemplify what it means to bring joy and happiness to work,” he says.

Elf shenanigans in the pediatric ICU

Ori’s elf buddies — Peppermint and Tinsel — are also hard at work bringing joy to Mayo’s littlest patients in the pediatric ICU in Rochester.

While Peppermint is an all-around chaos maker, Tinsel spends time with kids who are at Mayo for bone marrow transplants. He even has a central line and feeding tube like the patients he visits.

“Our elves’ biggest accomplice this year was Andrea Serfoss, who gave them lots of ideas and snuck them supplies for their journeys during the night. They're definitely on the naughty list,” says Amanda Smith, an ICU nurse who has been documenting Peppermint’s and Tinsel’s shenanigans in photos.

Some of the kids have even written notes to Peppermint and Tinsel, and Smith says they are very excited to see what the elves have been up to each morning.

“It's never fun to be in the hospital, especially during the holiday season, but we try to create magic wherever possible! I think that sparking joy even during difficult times is one of our unit's greatest specialties,” Smith says.

Check out the slideshow below to see what Peppermint and Tinsel have been up to:

Poinsettia tree goes viral

Poinsettia trees are an annual tradition around Mayo Clinic in Rochester. A photo of one of this year's trees has gone a bit viral. An image posted to the Employees at Mayo Clinic Facebook page features the poinsettia tree in the Gonda lobby, and it has been shared almost 4,000 times.

The tree is one of eight that are part of the tradition this year. Four trees are eight feet tall and consist of 100 red plants and 20 white plants around the base. The other four trees are 11 feet tall and are made up of 150 plants and 25 white plants.

The poinsettias used for the displays are “pinched plants,” which are shorter the your average poinsettia — approximately 16 to 18 inches in height — and have more blooms to fill the tree.

Along with all that photo sharing, more than 2,000 people commented on the photo, sharing their admiration and the joy the tree brought them.

Here is a selection of those comments:

  • “Beautiful. So merry and bright for patients, employees and staff.”
  • “What a lovely idea. So pretty and unusual.”
  • “Brings a smile to those who have health issues.”
  • “The power of flowers at Christmastime.”
  • “Just awesome. This is such a great place.”
  • “They sure add a bright spot for patients and their families.”
  • “I was flabbergasted the first time I saw this tree. It is most beautiful in person.”
  • “I can’t imagine keeping them watered."

Speaking of watering, the No. 1 question in the comments was about how the trees are watered. Fortunately, the Facilities team doesn’t have to water each plant individually. Instead, there's an interconnected system of water tubes — one for each pot — which which are fed through one hose twice a week.

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Inspire your colleagues by contributing to this column. Send your submissions to the News Center team. If you and your colleagues had some fun or stumbled across something interesting, drop the team a note, and include a photo or video if you can. If you found it interesting, chances are your colleagues will, too.