Forget Rudolph, Frosty, or even the Grinch. Introduce yourself to a new cast of intriguing yuletide characters, like a skid-row Santa or a charity-milking elevator operator. The crafty folks at The New Yorker rummaged through eight decades' worth of the magazine's famously dense holiday tales to gather Christmas at The New Yorker, a whimsically delicious collection of stories, poems, and illustrations. From John Updike's bah-humbug of a treatise, ''The Twelve Terrors of Christmas,'' to James Thurber's Hemingway-inspired ''A Visit From Saint Nicholas,'' this 305-page tome is as uplifting as it is cynical. Even Scrooge would find it worth the moola.