The 15 Best Things That Happened in 2017

2017 wasn't all bad! Here are some amazing feel-good stories from all throughout this year that'll lift your spirits. Keep it bookmarked so you can give yourself an emotional boost whenever you need it!

The laundry lottery

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A New Jersey man named Jimmie Smith was watching TV one day in May when he saw a news report about a $24.1 million dollar New York Lottery prize that hadn't been claimed—and was about to expire. (New York State lottery tickets expire one year after their drawing, if you were wondering.) He went to his closet and checked the pocket of an old shirt, where he had stuck a stack of tickets—and sure enough, the winning ticket was in there! Here are13 things lottery winners won't tell you.

Broadway gets the comic-book treatment

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You have probably heard of Comic-Con, the yearly event in San Diego with imitation events in just about every major city: Fans of comic books dress up in "cosplay" (costume-play) and have a big ol' nerdfest. Last January in New York City, the second annual BroadwayCon—focused not on comic books or movies, but exclusively on Broadway shows—took over the Javitz Center for three fabulous days. It'll be back next year—so polish up that Phantom mask! In the meantime, check out these hidden lessons from our favorite Broadway shows.

Religious communities come together

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Last January, the Victoria Islamic Center, a mosque in Texas, burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances. Here's the good news: Churches and synagogues offered space, money, and helping hands—raising more than a million dollars for the mosque's rebuilding. They broke ground in May and by September they were distributing emergency supplies to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Ain't that America?

We have Tim Tams. This is not a drill.

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Australia! They have kangaroos, they have hot-pink cockatoos, they have a super-pretty flag. Well, now they have to share their cookies: Tim Tams are a local favorite that came to the U.S. in 2017. What's so great about them? Go get a package, unwrap a Tam Tam, bite off both ends, and use it to sip your coffee as if it were a straw. Oh. Yeah. And don't forget about that new pink chocolate!

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Music behind bars

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Rhiannon Giddens is probably best known for being the powerful voice of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops or for her role on the TV show Nashville. In February, she partnered with Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program to run a music-education workshop for inmates at Sing Sing Prison. At a performance after the workshop, Ms. Giddens performed with a workshop student who had written a song about domestic abuse. Music is the new orange is the new … well, you get the picture. (Here's what domestic abuse experts want you to know.)

Jackie Robinson gets his own museum

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He broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and was a hero in the 1950s – not just as a Brooklyn Dodger, but as a tireless activist for civil rights. For years, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, founded by Robinson's family in 1972, has been working toward the goal of opening a museum in lower Manhattan, and in April, they started the process of bringing their collection of memorabilia to the public. Die-hard baseball fans will flip for these vintage photos.

 

Unicorn food!

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Starbucks picked up on an eye-pleasing trend in April with its Unicorn Frappuccino, and it seemed like everyone followed suit—from Instagram foodies to bagel shops, rainbow-hued food has arched over 2017 like a cheerful milky way. There are even healthy versions, like this unicorn poop dip, using natural food colors to create gentle versions of this trend. Why not nourish your body and soul at the same time?

 

Adopted twins from China reunite

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No, you're crying! The adopted parents of Audrey Doering wanted to give their daughter some information about her past as a Christmas gift—and found out that Audrey had a twin who'd also been adopted by an American family. They tracked down Gracie Rainsberry and her family a few states away. The delighted ten-year-old girls were brought together on Good Morning America—just try and watch it without tears.

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Frogs Vs. swine…flu

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Doctors have long been searching for ways to combat the influenza virus. And a frog that was recently discovered in Southern India may just be the key to a whole new way to do that. Scientists tested a gooey fluid from the frogs' backs—without hurting them!—and found an amino acid that literally makes viruses EXPLODE. If it's safe to use in humans, we might all become frog-powered virus-killing machines! Until it's widely available, try these natural flu remedies.

Prescription pets

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People who love their pups and kitties know that pets can lift your spirits and calm your nerves. But a slew of recent studies now offer scientific proof that interactions with dogs, cats, horses, fish, and even crickets can improve mental health over time. Just the act for caring for something else—especially if it's a grateful, furry, warm something—seems to make all the difference. Here's how owning a dog has major health benefits.

 

Muskrat love

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It started as a bizarre incident in a Las Vegas parking lot: Someone dumped an animal out of a car and took off, and witnesses called animal control. Here's the hitch: What the heck was this unidentifiable critter that looked like a cross between a kangaroo and a guinea pig? Turned out it was a large male rodent called a mara, usually only found in South America. A local vet checked him out, and then he was sent to live in a sanctuary in Arizona that already had a female for him to woo.

 

Now, that's fox news!

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The PBS series Nature released a trailer for their show Fox Tales in October that featured an amazing sight: A litter of fox pups who found the network's hidden cameras and, with a level of adorableness guaranteed to make you squeal, absolutely ripped it to very expensive shreds. Prepare yourself to make dolphin noises; it's irresistible. You can watch it here, and the whole special here.

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There is also a cat con

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BroadwayCon not doing it for you? Every August, Los Angeles hosts a feline version. People dress like cats. People adopt cats! There's a rapper who raps about his cat. There are workshops about…Who knows what the workshops are about? Let's all go! (Fun fact: When your cat yawns and closes his mouth so that his tongue is sticking out, that's called a "blep.") Here are 17 more things your cat wants you to know.

The Eclipse!

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The anticipation was amazing. People bought special glasses, made special lesson plans, and booked trips to the Path of Totality. Even where it was overcast and only partially viewable, the eclipse captured the entire nation's attention and for a glorious, enchanted few moments in August, all our eyes went skyward. The amount of money lost because of the eclipse will blow your mind.

Detroit's tiny house revolution

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Also in August, a nonprofit organization in Detroit bought vacant lots and filled them with "tiny houses," the trendy pint-sized dwellings that have become the stuff of reality TV shows and breathless magazine articles. These are equally sweet, but serve a different purpose: Low-income Detroiters can rent-to-own, and are supported with community services to keep them moving on up. Find out hidden costs of owning a tiny house.

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