So encouraged, Onetooth and Worms went to the couch and between them carried a large, loosely wrapped and apparently quite heavy,
parcel back to where Finny had shifted into a more comfortable position on the floor.
The boys carefully lowered it down onto the living room carpet before standing back up, all smiles and happy winks.
"You can just lift the paper up, it's only sorta not properly wrapped."
Taking the hint, Finny pulled the wrapping paper up and off the whatever-it-was underneath.
What it was, was what remained of the dozens of bags of sweets Onetooth and Worms had bought,
but now all poured into a twenty-litre glass jar that sported an ornate lid which looked specially made to fit. The whole thing was attached to a tailored wooden base.
Finny's eyes grew huge. So much candy.
Onetooth and Worms nudged each other. Kirsten and Silja exchanged knowing grins. Joe stopped leaning on the door jamb and took a couple of steps into the room.
He was giving the glass jar a suspicious look.
Finny's hand was drawn to the lid. Sooo much candy. But her fingers were an inch from reaching the cap when Kirsten's voice stopped Finny's hand in mid-air.
"No candy until after you've had your party snacks, please."
Finny and the other three orphans watched longingly as the huge jar was picked up by Silja and deposited back on the couch.
The teenager returned with the smallest of the presents and held it out to Finny.
"This is from me."
Everyone peered in as Finny's fingers pulled off the wrapping paper to reveal a small, felt-covered box.
Inside was a mound of shiny white metal which uncurled into a long silver chain when Finny gently lifted it high so that all could see. At the end of the shiny chain was a silver ring.
"I have put it onto chain because it is too much big for littler girly finger. Is a ring, see." Silja indicated the inscription. "Look. See it has aletrun... er, scratched, inside."
Finny squinted at the tiny letters. Then she remembered the thing that 'Soggy' Moise had given her and dove into her pocket to find it.
Everyone smiled at the sight of Finny examining the ring through a jeweller's loupe. Everyone except Kirsten who gave Joe 'that look'. Joe shrugged.
Finny was turning the ring round and round as she tried to make out the strange symbols.
hvad fer i kring kemur i kring
"What's it mean?"
Silja tapped the side of her nose and gave Finny an exaggerated wink.
"Ah. That is for you to be finding out."
Finny stood up and hung the mysterious ring around her neck. Then hugs were exchanged.
"Thank you, Silja."
When they let go of each other Kirsten was holding out a large, deep, flat box. Finny just managed to get her outstretched arms around the edges and sank back onto the carpet under its weight.
With wrapping paper ripped off Anneka style, Finny separated the lid from the base and openly gasped at the contents.
Clothes. LOTS of clothes. Tee shirts, tops, real jeans, more tops, sneakers, shoes, socks, even underpants! But everything in the box was crisply folded and screamed newness.
Finny dived in, pulling out everything one at a time to hold it up, to measure it against herself and just to feel the gorgeous newness of every item.
What dropped her jaw, though, was the top with her name emblazoned across the front in huge, fully embroidered, letters.
Finny heard her name and only then remembered that there were people around her. She looked up.
It was Kirsten, bending over her, with her hands on her knees for support.
"I said, why don't you pick something for now and go and get changed upstairs?"
Ten minutes later, Finny and Silja came back downstairs to a round of applause, magnificent in brand new blue jeans, white sneakers and, of course, the personalised pink and red top.
When she came back into the living room, to the little semicircle of waiting people, it was to find Casper, prevented from running away by Kirsten's death-grip on his shoulders,
nervously holding out his own inexpertly wrapped present.
Finny stared at the pink paper with red hearts that it was wrapped in. Casper noticed.
"Um, it was all he had for free. I spent all my chips on the... on the thing."
So, with both of them blushing, Casper passed his gift to Finny.
Kirsten nearly melted at the sweetness of the little scene, and even Silja had to work to keep a nonchalant expression.
Finny opened the parcel to reveal the leather-bound journal.
"Oh! Mister Trent sells these."
"It's a write your own storybook. You hafta write down stuff you do, like that adventure we did."
"I was thinking of doing that!"
"Oh, right. Er, good."
Finny and Casper stared uncomfortably at each other for way too long until a slightly exasperated voice whispered from the doorway.
"Oh, fer fu..."
But was immediately drowned out by Kirsten.
"Right! Well then, let's all go through to the dining room and start the party, shall we? I'm sure everyone is starving."
Kirsten and Silja shepherded the kids past Joe and across the hallway into the dining room. Joe stepped aside to let them pass.
When they had all gone, he crossed to the couch and knelt down to examine the big jar of candy.
On the wooden base, there was a torn-to-size piece of paper with 'FINNY' written on it in Onetooth's unmistakeable scrawl. It had been stuck down over something else.
Joe peeled the homemade label back and frowned at the words revealed on the brass plate beneath. Standing up, he touched his finger to a stud on his collar.
"Tuki? It's Joe. You got a sec? Or are you elbow deep in some poor bugger's guts as usual?"
Joe's face set into one of someone listening to their great aunt Betty telling him everything that has happened to her this week.
Eventually, there was a gap when Tuki paused for breath, and Joe jumped into it.
"Well, that's great, great. Say, I'm looking at this huge glass jar thing and it's got this label on it and, well, I'm guessing it's medical or something.
But anyway, the label says 'Acardiac Twin'*. Is that, er, is that somethi... Oh. Oh right. Erm, no, I can't. No, sorry, there's nothing like that actually in the jar... Yes, sorry.
No, if it had 'ave been then, sure I'd bring it over for you. So, this thing was definitely in there then, not just... Oh, I see, they make the label afterwards. Well, thanks anyway. Sure, yeah.
I'll come over sometime... I'd love to see the baby. No, I would... Look, I have to go, my ear's falling off, bye. Thanks. Bye."
Joe broke the connection. He cursed under his breath and hit the collar controls again.
"Chalky? Look, grab one of the lads and..."
"Joe! Are you coming? We're about ready to cut the cake."
"Yes, my love. Give me one minute."
Joe turned away from the doorway and hissed into the mic.
"No, not you! Listen, get yer arse over to that fancy candy seller and buy one of them big glass candy jars. Fill it full of those posh sweets he flogs and get it over here sharpish."
Breaking the connection again, Joe lifted the boys' birthday present and carefully carried it down the hall to the front door.
Being as quiet as he could, he opened the door and left the jar on the top step.
With the front door now closed again, Joe took a deep breath and steeled himself for the horrors of a child's birthday party.
Twenty minutes into, and ten minutes after the cake cutting, the doorbell chimed. Joe was out of his seat before Silja.
"That's fer me. Back in a jiffy."
At the front door again, Joe took delivery of the big new jar with 'Candy Jar' embossed across the front inside an equally fancy embossed scroll. He nodded to the jar he had left on the step.
"Get rid of that. Burn the contents. DO NOT eat those sweets, they'll likely kill you."
On tip-toe again, Joe put the replacement jar in the vacant space on the couch. He stood back and looked at it. It was obviously not the same jar.
Joe shook his head; he'd cross that bridge when he was chased over it.
Returning to the party, Joe greeted the look Kirsten gave him with a smile and an exaggeratedly mouthed 'I'll explain later'.
Then he looked down at the dish that had appeared on the table in front of him. His shoulders slumped under the weight of parental responsibility.
"Oh look. Jelly and ice-cream... My favourite."
*Acardiac Twin. Typically, no head and no arms. Relies on healthy twin for blood supply.