In this digital age, there can be no excuse for not keeping in touch with family and friends because it can be done at the touch of a button or by lifting a phone. Of course, it's easier if you can touch-type as the words appear almost as fast as you can think them. The thing is people go through periods in their lives when they don't want to be in contact. After many unanswered e-mails and skype messages to my beloved cousin (we grew up so close), I finally received a Christmas card last year, apologizing for the lack of communication but only saying she had had a 'difficult' year. I have to respect that and I'll try again in a few months' time, worried now as to what has been going on in her life. Whatever it is she hasn't wanted to tell me about it and I hope this year goes better for her. The same goes for many old friends: often we have joyfully found each other on Facebook, exchanged potted stories of our lives and then gone our separate ways. My best friend is hopeless at any written correspondence but she loves a telephone. I am the opposite. She loves to sit for hours chatting on Skype, I would rather e-mail. So we don't talk often: I used to pop in to her house once a week at least for a cuppa and a chat when we lived close. The thing is we don't keep score or hold a grudge: we know we will be available for each other should the need arise. My husband is even worse: he and his friends just phone each other once a year on their birthdays. The key thing is if you can talk as easily and naturally when you do speak as if no time at all had passed. If not, maybe the friendship should be consigned to the past. Relatives can be put on a back burner.