Silver Linings

My son is a soccer player. He’s been playing soccer since he was hip high on me. When my daughter was in afternoon preschool, I was looking for an activity for a three-year-old. I stumbled upon a soccer camp on a field in Arlington run by Khary Stockton, who happened to be a graduate of Gonzaga College High School. It’s important to mention their mission statement – “Men for others.” Little did I know way back then that Finn would attend Gonzaga as well and become captain of the Varsity Soccer team during his senior year. The young coaches pulled me aside on that Arlington field back in 2005 and made a point of telling me that my son had a real nose for the game. I’m not sure how you decipher skillset at three years old but darn if they didn’t predict what would become my son’s passion.



Men’s soccer comes with its own set of fashion takeaways. The names David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo were pretty major in our house especially as the focus of Halloween costumes for more than a couple years. Both Beckham and Ronaldo have incredible style and are major influencers for young boys (as well as easy on the eye for the moms). It all starts with the uniform. Wearing the jersey number of one of your favorite players is the beginning of a mindset that empowers your mental ability to “bend it like Beckham” and exemplifies the importance of dressing the part. The cleats are also key. Kids follow the style decisions of their heroes and become brand aware through sponsorships and social media accounts where those logos are prominently displayed on perfectly photographed headers and goal attempts. They also become savvy to what sets them apart on the field – some are even loyal to a particular color for a period of time. The similarities to fashion go beyond the soccer uniform as man buns and hair color soon follows. I remember coming back from one New York buying trip to find Finn’s hair had not only been cut into a mohawk but bleached platinum blonde by my husband. I know they were looking for a bigger reaction from me, but I was more curious on how the Clairol had reached near ceiling heights on the bedroom wall.



The other major style element for sports figures is their jewelry. Finn started wearing a cross on a chain after returning back from a spiritual retreat at Gonzaga where the cross was given as a way to remember their experience. Jewelry is such a personal element and speaks to us as a reminder of an event, a person, or a belief. If you haven’t speculated already, this is my son’s senior year and like many other parents of seniors, I am faced with an unexpected turn of events. We are all waking up each day with new understanding of personal sacrifice. The COVID-19 pandemic is an exercise in selflessness where we are challenged to protect others by staying home. At times I find myself torn between the concept of the best of times and the worst of times. While confronted with so many unexpected financial struggles, this gift of time has offered me a unique existence with my two teenage children that I could never have imagined. Shame on me if I only focus on what’s been taken away and not relish in what has been given.

Perspective is vital. The serendipitous twist of possibly missing graduation at a moment where men for others has become a life or death matter is something l feel Finn will carry with him into his future along with many others from the Class of 2020. Which brings me to how to honor the graduates this spring. I can’t begin to acknowledge the disappointment that hangs in the air surrounding students and families who were looking forward to all that senior year encompasses. All I can offer is that while it may not be what you had imagined, it can be different with the same amount of pride and joy. Our graduates will undoubtedly come away with a greater understanding of humility at the beginning of their next chapter. In a world where it became normal to vie for our singular 15 minutes, we are collectively faced with how much we need each other. All the world may be a stage, but we are now reminded how a virtual existence lacks a dimension we’ll come to yearn for. Perhaps social distancing and stay home orders are a high price to pay for our graduates’ years of hard work, but they are set to become the stewards of our collective future and have unique perspective that could benefit humanity. Singularly it’s easy to feel for each of them but as a group, as the Class of 2020, they have each other and will rise together and adapt as they look forward to what’s next with resiliency. Meanwhile, the world has been set on pause and we have the gift of time with one another in our homes. In exhibiting this simple task for others, we exemplify what it means to be a good citizen. For me this is the silver lining.



Graduation ceremonies themselves may be up in the air but gifts will happen this year. We will celebrate our children’s accomplishments and let them know how proud we are of them. Now is also a time to help our kids find great gifts to give each other. When Lane graduated, her group of friends gave each other thoughtful gifts for graduation to commemorate the time they had spent together. COVID has given us a little time to plan so why not get your graduation gifts lined up! Maybe there’s a graduate on your block or somewhere close by that you could acknowledge if for no other reason than you have time this year! Become that anonymous spark of joy for a graduate this year with an unexpected gift card! There’s time for personalization too. I have a favorite piece that has become somewhat of a staple in more than a few of my client’s necklace stories. I’m hoping you may find it a suitable gift for a graduate in your life.

For a very special gift, consider the Love Token in 14K gold from She’s Unique. The sentiment is suitable for a parent or grandparent to give to a graduate – especially one who aspires to follow their dreams to Paris one day! The token is stamped with the French Sentiment “+qu’hier — queen remain” translating to “I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” I especially love the relationship to time with this piece and the importance of living in the moment while acknowledging the hope of every precious tomorrow. Place an order now that allows time for personalizing on the back!


14K gold $648 – special order only. The only item excluded from the 20% off. Please contact Katya directly if you would like to order


There is also a gold-plated version that is 20% off – a welcome discount on a special gift. Love Token in gold fill:  $178 – available online.


If your graduate is missing a trip that has been postponed, consider getting her the St. Christopher pendant – patron saint of travelers keeping her safe on all her journeys to come. Saint Christopher Necklace: $135 – available online.

There are also girlfriend gifts, ideas for nieces, goddaughters, or graduates of family friends. She’s Unique has such a welcoming range of price points for the type of jewelry so many teens and stylish women love.


As for my graduate, I’m heading over to Alx&Co. to have Tim and Meaghan design a cross that Finn will find cool enough to wear or at least keep with memories of a unique senior year experience. To be honest, if it weren’t for this pivot, I may have missed an opportunity to create this gift for him and explore the meaning behind why it’s pertinent. I’ll be documenting the process on my Instagram feed if you want to follow along.



I like to believe it was no coincidence that took Finn to that first kick around in Arlington in 2005 but his own destiny afoot. As for the cross, I’ll have it engraved with “Men for others” with the date of his graduation – TBD :). Silver linings…




  • The latest from Alicia
Alicia was born and raised in Alexandria, and married a local boy. She is happily married and the mother of two amazing children and one adorable and terribly smart border terrier named Dixie. Alicia has always known she was a creative. She collected editions of Vogue from junior high on and has always loved clothing and design. She studied interior design at VCU and parlayed that degree into commercial interior design, the web design, and ultimately found herself managing a local boutique and serving as a stylist to many Alexandrian women. She now has a successful full-time styling business, The Tulle Box, and makes it her business to make her clients feel great about themselves and the way they look.


  1. Avatar Diane Hynes says:

    Loved this article, especially since both my boys graduated from Gonzaga. It is a special place.
    My memories of graduation of the boys in white in the church, only two guest tickets since seating is so limited. After Mass they all stand and sing the Alma Mater and then bang the pews. It is awesome to witness. My favorite photo knowing this tradition is of my boys side by side with their right arms up singing in unison after Quinn’s graduation Mass. Priceless.
    Your son will have different memories but the happier time will outweigh the events that may not happen.

  2. Avatar Catie Gage says:

    Sweet story Alicia! Finn is so handsome! xoxoxoxox

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