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In a cold and snowy week, these stories and videos made us smile

Time to "let it go" and find the joy.
/ Source: TODAY

Somehow, this week just hit differently, as the kids say. Maybe it's because as a nation, we are now close to marking a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe it's because the new month came in fast and cold with a snowstorm that left the northeast under blankets of snow — with more on the way.

But the snow reminded us that even now after a year in a pandemic, there is still joy to be found in snow days, snowball fights and sledding.

Here are some more things (OK, mostly animals) that made us smile this week:

This might be a panda fan site now ...

if you are looking for bipartisanship in America, look no further than the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian were caught playing in the snow this week and sliding down hills on their backs.

It's pretty hard not to smile at pandas sliding in snow.

... but pandas weren't the only ones who 'let it go' in the snow this week

After what has been a long and painful year, images of New Yorkers playing in the snow reminded us of the resiliency of the human spirit ...

@savvyjaninee

nyc today felt like a movie 🥺 can’t stop 😭 ##nyc ##snowday

♬ original sound - ourfriendsonfacebook

... and the catharsis of throwing a really well-formed snowball.

We were reminded of the healing power of a hug ...

"You OK? Need hug?" Yes, actually, we do need a hug. And we can't wait until we can hug again just like these two toddlers captured on video and featured in Hoda's Morning Boost this week.

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the healing power of a dog ...

Until we can hug again safely, dogs would like you to know they're here if we need them. Right here.

... and that healing often goes both ways

Brooks Campbell, then just 1 year old, needed a new liver, but his parents couldn't donate theirs to him. His uncle Grant needed a reason to have hope after struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. It turned out the two needed each other to heal.

Grant volunteered to be the organ donor for his nephew. Today, Brooks is a happy 2-year-old, and Grant knows he is meant to be here.

"Little Brooks needed me," Grant said. "And if I hadn't been there, I don't know if he would have made it."

You don't have to donate a liver to help a child ...

When 20-year-old Cornell undergrad Hunter Kahn made $30,000 on the recent frenzy surrounding GameStop stock, he found a fitting way to share the good fortune.

Kahn, a Minnesota native, decided to donate six Nintendo Switch game consoles and some video games to Children's Minnesota hospital with a portion of his unexpected windfall.

"As a beneficiary of the recent events on Wall Street I think it is important that myself and others pay forward our good fortune," Kahn wrote on Instagram. "These events have highlighted a lot of corruption and with this transfer of power it is important that we don’t become men in suits ourselves."

... and helping children can be even sweeter right now

It's Girl Scout cookie season, which is reason to smile in and of itself. But even better: There is a way to have your cookie, eat it too, and help homeless girls from New York City.

Girl Scout Troop 6000 is specifically made for girls in New York's shelter system and helps girls form friendships and find support even in the most turbulent times in their young lives.

Like other scouting troops across the country, 100% of proceeds from cookie sales and other fundraising efforts go toward the troop's badge activities, uniforms and field trips, so you can feel even better about stocking up on Thin Mints.

This baby found (SO MUCH) joy in learning how to say 'circle'

We're not sure what he found so funny about a circle, but when TikTok user Maggie Tinoco's baby loses himself in giggles while gurgling out the word "guur-gull," we lose it too.

"That's the energy I needed today," wrote one commenter on the video, which has been viewed a boggling 8.5 million times. We agree!

... and we found joy in knowing there is a crib in the White House

News came out this week that as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are settling into their new home, they've added a very special piece of furniture: a crib for first grandson Beau, the infant son of Hunter Biden.

Babu Beau is named after the president’s late son, Beau Biden III, the former attorney general of Delaware who died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

President Joe Biden holds his grandson Beau Biden at the White House on Jan. 20, 2021.Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

“For us, family is the beginning, middle and end,” President Biden explained in an interview with People magazine. “And Jill’s going to warn me not to say this because I sometimes get emotional, but it meant so much that Beau was there — our son Beau, who was an incredible man. He was there in his namesake, his nephew Beau-y. It just seemed...”

“Complete,” the first lady said.

Finally, a few Very Good Boys just to top off the good vibes:

May we all find something in life that makes us as excited as Jenson the Greyhound is about walks.

And may we introduce you to "K9Mac," an 8-week-old German shepherd puppy whose partner, TikTok user @justatallguy, is documenting his training to become a certified police K9?

@justatallguy

K9 Mac is a purebred German Shepherd puppy. I am a patrol deputy assigned to him! ##k9copsoftiktok ##dogsoftiktok ##k9mac ##fyp

♬ original sound - TallGuyK9Mac

We don't know about you, but we feel better just knowing ears like Mac's exist in the world.

Hope you found something to make your tails wag this week too. Hang in there, everyone.

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