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Two months ago, I had no idea what a pea-light canopy was. And if you’d explained to me what one is—a decorative overhead spiderweb-style arrangement of wee glowing lights—I’d have felt confident in consigning it to the vast category of things that the human race is free to find distinctly optional, along with wasps, peanut butter, dental floss and football.

Now, I’m spending great chunks of my life wondering whether I can do without one. I lie in bed long after I should be asleep, eyes saucering into the dark, worrying about it. Pea-light canopies, in other words, have quietly…

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