I have been corresponding with friends and family overseas for a long time.

I have kept in touch with friends I met on my original gap year to Australia and New Zealand, with a school friend who settled in Canada, with work colleagues returned to their native lands. And with my in-laws.

Aussie Mate was not good at writing to his family. He was happy to make phone calls, but that was infrequent due to the cost back in the 1980’s. So when we got together I began writing to the two sides of his family. Looking through the box of letters that we’ve kept, our correspondence must have been prolific.

As well as birthday and Christmas cards, and holiday postcards, there are letters on air mail paper and a couple of telegrams. A very early one addressed to Aussie Mate just states “ We’re alive, are you? love Father”. There are pre-paid aerogramme letters with the tabs that you folded and stuck down once letter was written. But on occasion we opened it incorrectly so it is a puzzle to now read it in the correct order.

It is nostalgic re-reading snapshots of people’s lives, back when we were all single, before marriages, before kids were born. It is also happy and sad to read letters from people no longer with us, from great grandparents, grandparents and a parent.

It is lovely to remember the odd idiosyncrasies – Father always wrote in pencil – Nanna wrote on odd scraps of paper – sister typed from work on headed paper of the time.

I have a few letters from my own family, but as they were local we did chat on the phone and saw each other frequently. I do have a few letters from my grandparents. And I recognise the hand writing on the envelopes even though the letters are over twenty years old.

Now that we all correspond by email, text and electronic message, what will future generations have as keepsakes?